| 26 November 2022, Saturday |

Economy minister partakes in meeting of Arab trade ministers

At the invitation of His Excellency Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, Saudi Minister of Commerce, the Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade, Dr. Amin Salam, who is also the Chairman of the Ministerial Committee for Food Security, headed his country’s delegation to the meeting of trade ministers of the Arab countries in preparation for the 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization under the auspices of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The meeting issued a joint statement in which the Arab Trade Ministers express their deep concern “over the effects of high food prices and supply chain disruptions on food security as a result of the combined effects of the global pandemic and current geopolitical challenges.” The statement also calls on WTO members to “refrain from implementing unjustified trade barriers on agricultural products, food and main inputs for agricultural production.”

During the conference, Minister Salam held several meetings with the Saudi Minister of Trade, Dr. Al-Qasabi, the Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Nevin Jameh, His Excellency Zaid bin Rashid Al-Zayani, the Bahraini Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, the Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce Fahd bin Mutlaq Al-Sharyan, the Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hosoda Kenichi, and the Minister of Commerce of Türkiye Mehmet Muś. During the meetings, they discussed ways to develop relations and enhance economic cooperation between Lebanon and these countries.

The speech of Minister Amin Salam during the meeting of trade ministers for Arab countries for the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference:

President, Excellency Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, Minister of Commerce of Saudi Arabia

Excellencies, Arab Ministers of Trade, delegations of Arab countries to the United Nations and other international organizations, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me at the outset to express how proud I am to participate in today’s meeting and to note the efforts of the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the World Trade Organization in coordinating and hosting this meeting and the previous preparatory meetings for the 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization.

This meeting is timely and critically important, especially in light of the reality imposed by the crisis of the outbreak of the Corona pandemic and the new regional, economic and trade developments and their negative impact on production chains and food security.

As well as the growing importance of e-commerce and the necessary amendments and updates on various legal, regulatory and sectoral fronts. The major shift in global trade forced all economies to take the necessary steps to reap the benefits of this transformation.

Perhaps the most prominent objectives of this meeting is to ensure that the Arab countries can reflect and unify their positions and priorities to protect the interests of the Arab countries in the multilateral trading system and the current negotiations within the framework of the World Trade Organization.

Our presence here today is the conclusive evidence of our insistence as Arab countries to play a key and effective role in decision-making within the framework of the global multilateral trading system and to protect the interests of Arab countries, as well as the assertion that the results of negotiations guarantee Arab commercial interests, especially in light of the increasing competition in the field of goods and services and others. This Arab integration in attitudes is the basis for facing challenges on the global economic arena, and it is a continuation of the integration imposed by the Greater Arab Free Trade Area.

In this context, we stress the need to enhance intra-Arab trade, which is still below the level that Arab countries aspire to, and we can’t stress enough the importance of working together to achieve comprehensive economic and social development in response to the demands of the Arab people.

Your Excellencies,

There have been a series of crises in Lebanon for several years. I will not dive into their details. You are the ones who loved Lebanon and its people and stood by it in all the crises and wars that afflicted it, and we are confident you will continue to do.

Rather, I will suffice to say that this crisis has cast a shadow on social, economic and financial terms on all sectors and has prevented the country’s progress, creating job opportunities and attracting investments. It also deprived the people of Lebanon of benefiting from its economic components and competitive advantages.

In this context, we met with the Director-General of the organization, Dr. Ngozi Uila and strongly expressed Lebanon’s desire to resume negotiations to join the World Trade Organization, especially in the context of its reform process and to enhance the confidence of the international community and investors in Lebanon’s trade policies. It is part of our aspiration and commitment to support the brotherly Arab countries, especially the Arab group in the World Trade Organization.

We are fully aware of the need to join the World Trade Organization because of the benefits that can be reflected on the production and service sectors. In this context, we seek through the action plan that we set at the Ministry of Economy and Trade and in preparation for our accession to the organization, to shed light on the ways to Fortifying our productive sectors and enhancing our competitive capabilities so that we can ward off any risks posed by the openness of markets and the liberalization of trade for goods and services, and thus steadfastness in the face of competition.

Since we have reached advanced stages in the negotiation file to enter into a program with the International Monetary Fund, we are confident that the reforms expected to be implemented within the framework of the program will prepare the appropriate ground for reactivating the accession file, benefiting from the positive effects of membership and playing an influential role in future meetings and negotiations.

In conclusion, I would like to confirm that we support the Arab position that will result from this preparatory meeting. With our hope that the ministerial meeting will adopt these proposals, especially the request of the sisterly Arab Emirates to host the 13th Ministerial Conference, as well as the adoption of the Arabic language as an official working language in the organization.

  • NNA