Arab League demands WTO observer status
Arab economy ministers called Wednesday, July 18, on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to grant the Arab League "observer" status, the official Egyptian news agency MENA reported.
After a meeting Tuesday and Wednesday in Cairo, the ministers called on WTO president Mike Moore to "support the Arab League's request to attend all WTO meetings with 'observer' status".
"It would be appropriate if the League's participation coincided with the next WTO ministerial meeting, especially since this meeting will be held in another Arab country, Qatar", Egyptian Economy Minister Yussef Butros Ghali said in a letter to Moore, quoted by MENA. "Arab countries take this matter very seriously", he added.
Arab ministers also stressed the need to speed up the accession process for Arab countries, which are not already members of the WTO. The Cairo meeting grouped 14 Arab countries, nine of which are members of the WTO: Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, Mauritania, Bahrain and Oman. Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen are observers at the trade body.
On July 13, Qatar had announced that Israel would take part in the WTO meeting despite Arab condemnation of the Jewish state's repression of the Palestinian intifada. On Monday, Kuwaiti Parliament Speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi had urged his government to boycott the conference in Doha. ― (AFP, Cairo)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)