Private Arab firms urged to be bolder in world economy
Private Arab companies need to be bolder and more aggressive in order to end the marginalization of the Arab market in the world economy, Lebanese Finance Minister Georges Corm urged Tuesday.
Saying it was too easy to blame war and state-controlled economies for the problem, Corm said "what is more preoccupying is the attitude of the private sector vis-a-vis globalization."
Addressing a conference here on emerging Arab economies, he said: "If local business behavior does not become bolder and more aggressive, it is to be feared Arab markets will continue to be marginalized in the global economy."
Outlining proposals at the conference sponsored by London-based Euromoney Forums, Corm urged the Arab private sector to devote more financial resources to research and development and to manpower training.
Private firms should be more open to expanding their equity base through introducing new partners and issuing shares on the domestic and international financial markets, he added.
Local banks "should become more investment bank minded toward their clients and devote additional efforts to stimulate entrepreneurship," he said.
The government and private sector should consult more openly, much like the successful countries in Asia, to define new policies to face the various challenges of globalization, he said.
The state needed to join in such a bolder approach to stimulate investment and create employment, he added.
It was possible to be distracted by other problems in the region, he added.
"Waiting for peace has been a pretext for postponing investment decisions or restricting investments to sectors considered as enjoying high, rapid and safe returns like the real estate or tourist sectors," he said.
Nor is Arab socialism to be blamed for the marginalization.
Arab governments such as in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco have taken large strides toward opening closed economies in the last two decades, with privatization now accepted as a tool for cutting the state role, he added.
Euromoney Forums is part of a publishing group in London that sponsors economic conferences around the world, including previous ones in Cairo.— (AFP)
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