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French Version

Siniora urges creation of common Arab market

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said on Thursday that the Arab states should liberalize the services sector and remove trade barriers to speed up the creation of a common market.

"Trade in services is important in modern economies and will have an increasing role in the future. I hope economy ministers and those concerned will give it the importance it is due in the coming period, especially boosting trade exchange between the Arab countries and dealing with the WTO and its trade partners to improve means of exchange between us," Siniora said.

Siniora's made these comments during the opening of the second day of the Arab Ministerial Meeting in Preparation for the WTO 6th Ministerial Conference, organized by UNESCW, to be held in Hong Kong from 13 to 18 December 2005.

In his statement, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora emphasized the importance of the meeting. "It is in indicator of your belief in the need for coordination of an unified stand. This preparatory meeting is important and the attendance of the Arab countries shows how mindful they are of becoming active members of the World Trade Organization (WTO)," he said.

Siniora congratulated Saudi Arabia on its imminent WTO accession but stressed that while other Arab countries are currently in the negotiation phase, they must take every care to overcome the obstacles standing in their way.

"I regret trade relations between Arab countries remain quite limited be it because the goods produced are not enough or not good enough," he said.

The premier stressed that the measure of how good relations are between two countries is the speed with which goods cross their respective borders.

"It is important to achieve strong and sustainable development in the Arab countries so I must ask my fellow Arab ministers to mind this point," he said.

"We need to work harder on the facilitation of trade. For example, we can unify border inspection standards and come up with other innovative solutions or think outside the box," he added.

The premier said: "These measures need to be taken if we wish to join the WTO, so we had better apply them ourselves first."

ESCWA's Executive Secretary Mervat Tallawy welcomed those present as well as Premier Siniora, under whose auspices this conference is being held.

"We at UNESCWA thank him for his attention, knowing how busy he is and how sensitive is this period that Lebanon and the region are going through," he said.

"Your attendance underscores our view that Lebanon will regain its regional and international role as a center for world conferences and a place for Arab countries to come together. We wish Lebanon and the Arab region success."

Beirut,12 05 2005
The Daily Star
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