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Arab-African Economic Forum opens in Amman

By JT - Sep 28,2017 - Last updated at Sep 28,2017

Officials attend the inaugural ceremony of the Arab-African Economic Forum in Amman on Wednesday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Deputising for His Majesty King Abdullah, Minister of State for Investment Affairs Muhannad Shehadeh on Wednesday inaugurated the Arab-African Economic Forum in Amman, which will focus on developing Arab-African economic, trade and investment relations.

The forum, which will be held under the title “Partnership Roadmap and Financing Mechanisms”, will be attended by more than 500 participants from 54 Arab, African and foreign countries, in addition to Jordan, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Participants will discuss new opportunities to develop economic, trade and investment cooperation among Arab and African countries in light of the resolutions formulated at the 4th Arab-African Summit held in Equatorial Guinea last year.

Shehadeh said that Jordan has “started turning challenges into real opportunities” to achieve comprehensive development and create job opportunities through partnerships between the public and private sectors.

He added that the Jordan Investment Commission has been working with business owners and investors to facilitate work conditions in the Kingdom, and enhance relations between the two parties, noting that Jordan has remained a safe haven for all Jordanians, partners and friends despite the current regional situation.

Jordan is determined to develop its business environment and to enhance it in the Mashriq region, to become a “strong” gateway for the Gulf region and the Middle East and North Africa, the minister added.

In this regard, he said that Jordan’s trade agreements with world economic blocs have enabled it to reach one billion consumers worldwide, making the Kingdom a “regional centre for many corporations”.

The minister urged the participants to come up with new ideas that can contribute to boosting businesses and setting up partnerships among Arab and African countries.

The event, which is organised by the Union of Arab Chambers, the Jordan Chamber of Commerce (JCC), and the Lebanese Economy and Business Group, also aims to strengthen the private sector’s relations in the economic and development fields to enhance trade exchange and maximise joint investments.

JCC president, Senator Nael Kabariti, who is also the president of the Union of Arab Chambers, said that all the shared factors between Arab and African countries are “strong points” sufficient to establish an economic bloc with a wide impact on the international economy, Petra added.

Kabariti called for establishing a zone for the exchange of goods and for developing complementary industries rather than competitive ones, especially in the sectors of electronic devices, agriculture, health and pharmaceuticals, and traditional and renewable energy projects, among others.

Chairman of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, Sheikh Saleh Kamel, called for investing in Jordan, urging investors to avoid holding their money in banks.

He noted that the chamber aims at reviving moral values in commercial transactions, raising awareness on Islamic economy, instilling the spirits of integration and solidarity, boosting trade exchange, developing tourism and investment and facilitating the access to capitals, among others. 

Chairman of the Union of African Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Professions, Ahmed Wakil, stressed that the African continent benefits from several investment opportunities, especially as it possesses around 60 per cent of the world’s arable land; half of the world’s reserves of platinum, cobalt and diamond; 11 per cent of oil; 6 per cent of gas; and 4 per cent of coal.

He reiterated the importance for the Arab world to be a main investment partner in agriculture to achieve food security, implement renewable energy and transformative industries to increase the added value of Africa’s resources, according to Petra.

Kamel Hassan Ali, assistant secretary general of the Arab League and head of the economic sector, said that the forum represents a main platform to increase cooperation between the Arab business community and African counterparts.

He called for expanding the scope of regional cooperation and activating the bilateral commercial agreements, as well as establishing joint projects aimed at boosting economic productivity and the improvement of living conditions.

Ahmad Shueib, head of the foreign trade and private sector department at the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, said that the forum grabs the attention of Arab and African decision makers and businesspeople, especially, as it constitutes a platform for consultation and exchanging views on the means to develop economic cooperation.

Chairman of the Economy and Business Group, Raouf Abu Zaki, said that it is encouraging to see that Jordan is pursuing its growth and economic and financial reforms despite the many challenges surrounding the country.

 

Crises in neighbouring countries have led to the closure of land commercial routes and affected tourist resources and financial flows, he said, adding that the biggest challenge facing Jordan is the stimulation of growth rate and the creation of job opportunities, according to Petra.

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