The fifth "Meeting of Arab Businessmen" aimed at encouraging economic ties between Arab countries opened Monday, April 9, in Beirut.
About 500 businessmen from Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Morocco, Yemen and the Palestinian territories took part in the opening session of the three-day conference.
The conference was aimed mainly at encouraging investments in the Arab world in general and in Lebanon in particular, chiefly in the banking, tourism, trading, industrial and information technology sectors.
Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was expected to deliver a speech on Tuesday at the conference.
Minister without portfolio Beshara Merhej, speaking on Hariri's behalf, called on the Arabs to meet the "double challenges facing the Arab world: political pressures on the economy and economic slowdown."
Merhej called for drafting a "series of regional and international protocols to increase Arab immunity in the face of international economic fluctuations."
He also listed recent Lebanese government measures aimed at reshaping public finances and reviving growth, which has been stagnating for two years.
"The government has taken a pioneer initiative in the region. It has decreased customs to increase trade exchanges, and will sign this summer an association agreement with the European Union and is due to join later on the World Trade Organization," he said. — (AFP, Beirut)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)