Arab ministers meet in Beirut to prepare for WTO conference
Arab trade and economy ministers started Monday, October 29, a two-day preparatory meeting in Beirut to coordinate positions ahead of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference in Doha next month.
The meeting was held at the headquarters of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which was organizing the event together with the Cairo-based Arab League.
"Today's meeting is aimed at exchanging views and prepare for the fourth WTO ministerial conference which is due to be held in a member state, namely Qatar," November 9-13, said ESCWA Executive Secretary Mervat Tallawy.
"It aims at articulating the position of Arab states regarding issues proposed in the Doha conference, and of achieving (Arab) national objectives and reducing the negative effects of globalization," she said at the opening.
Lebanese Economy Minister Bassel Fleihan, whose country is among five candidate states to join the WTO, said "joining the organization is not an objective by itself, it is one of the ways for the modernization of the economy."
Saudi Trade Minister Osama Faqih said that Riyadh, which has been a candidate wishing to join the WTO since 1996, was "hopeful that the six past years of serious efforts would soon be fruitful."
Monday's meeting at the Beirut-based ESCWA gathered trade and economy ministers from Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Tunisia, Algeria and Qatar. WTO delegate Abdul Hamid Mamdouh, the body's director of trade and services, as well as Arab League representative Saad Faragi also attended the opening session.
Eleven of the 22 Arab League members have already joined: Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. Five are candidates: Algeria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. ― (AFP, Beirut)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)