The US Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) seeks to open trade opportunities "to create free and dynamic economies that can boost prosperity in the Arab world," according to Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs E. Anthony Wayne. Wayne was addressing the International Arab Banking Summit in Montreal, Canada, on June 25.
The MEPI initiative calls for political and civil society development, improved educational opportunities, and economic reform. The Bush administration plans to spend $100 million in 2003, and has requested $145 million for 2004, Wayne said.
Citing the 2002 Arab Human Development Report published by the UN Development Program (UNDP), and the challenges faced by many economies in the Middle East and North Africa, Wayne said the US stands ready to work together with countries in the region "to unlock the entrepreneurial energy of the Arab world."
To boost trade related growth in the Middle East, Wayne said the US proposes a plan of graduated steps for Middle Eastern nations to increase trade and investment with the United States and others in the world economy, beginning by working with nations on measures that can speed accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Wayne also outlined plans for free trade agreements with Middle East countries, and a regional Middle East Free Trade Area within a decade. — (menareport.com)
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