Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa talks to Arab League members beside Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak (Photo: Reuters)
The final statement at the end of the Arab Economic Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh identifies the challenges facing the Arab world and its people in the coming years. In doing so, the leaders present at the summit are attempting to assuage the anxieties of their societies by presenting a cohesive vision of what it takes to engage and trade in the current global climate.
By carrying on from where the previous summit in 2009 left off, the delegates then looked forward.
“We Arab leaders are renewing our commitment to the developmental strategies adopted at the Kuwait summit 2009 and affirm our determination to move forward in the development of Arab societies technologically, economically and socially, and develop structures of joint action within the framework of the Arab League to ensure a better future for our peoples and future generations."
Resource scarcity and security came in for special mention with rising food prices a potential source of instability around the world.
"We can assure that food security and Arab water security is a priority for Arab action in the coming years, especially that climate change will affect water resources and increase scarcity of those resources so we will work to implement the Arab water security strategy in the Arab region."
The summit presented joint Arab action priorities for the next phase to solidify trade and communication links between the member states.
“Assessing the progress made in the areas of regional infrastructure, especially the planned internet, railway linkage, electricity project and navy linking between our countries.
"Also, working towards Arab Free Trade area and move towards a Customs Union and adopted policies aimed at enhancing the joint Arab investments and enable the private sector and civil society to contribute effectively to the overall development process”
The leaders also reviewed the completion of the Common Arab Customs Law and the ongoing work on unification of customs tariff scheduled for before 2012, in preparation for the final declaration on the Arab Customs Union by 2015, and the Arab Common Market by 2020.
The Summit also agreed on the “the Arab strategy to reduce Disaster Risk 2020” to face “increasing risks due to environmental degradation, and disasters frequently occurring as a result of geological changes and global warming and its direct impact on lives, infrastructure, livelihoods and sustainable development.”
Achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals is also a top priority according to the draft resolution.
“On the basis of our commitment to improve the standard of living of Arab citizens, ensuring a better future for them, we’ve discussed ways to overcome obstacles to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the importance of activating the development of education, scientific and technical research, innovation and the reduction of poverty and combat unemployment and health care as key components of development and renaissance of our societies in the coming decades.”
The role of young people and the need to provide opportunities for them to fulfill their potential was given special attention in the resolution.
“We demonstrate our commitment to providing opportunities for Arab youth to enable them to participate actively in society and to provide them with employment opportunities.”
One way of achieving this goal will be through the emir of Kuwait's Fund for Economic and Social Development, which the summit agreed to adopt.
“We welcome the launch of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development initiated by the emir of Kuwait, and will work hard to increase its capital. The fund will help financing small and medium industries in the private sector with a capital of two billion dollars which will contribute to the reduction of poverty rates and levels of unemployment and provide job opportunities, especially to young people, who represent about 25 per cent of the total population of our societies”
The summit has also agreed upon forging new partnerships and alliances with international powers.
“We’ve agreed upon the necessity of developing the joint Arab action, to have collective Arab-international blocs and regional powers including China, India, Japan, Turkey, Russia and African countries and the countries of Latin America.”
The Arab leaders also emphasized in the final resolution on an Arab-African strategic partnership, as well as cooperation with South American countries.
Delegates concluded by announcing that the next summit will be held 2013 in Saudi Arabia.