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French Version


Former Lebanese PM defends free trade between Arab countries (Daily Star)

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri defended free trade between Arab countries and called for increased investment in the region, in Bahrain on Saturday during the 11th Private Sector Meeting for the Promotion of Trade and Joint Venture Investment among Islamic countries.

"Investment in the Arab world is the best way to preserve social and economic stability because when capital leaves the Arab countries, this increases unemployment and consequently leads to political instability," he said.

Hariri, a local billionaire who resigned as Prime Minister last October, urged participants to support the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement, which slashed tariffs on inter-Arab trade beginning this month.

Hariri called for "real dialogue among the concerned parties" to confront challenges that may arise in removing what he called administrative and customs obstacles.

"The establishing of this common market would promote trade and investment in our countries - far from bilateral agreements and selective conditions at time when the world strives to form economic blocs under the pressures of globalization."

Hariri touted the merits of investing in the Arab world and urged regional governments to establish regulatory frameworks to govern trade and investment.

"A lot of people say that their money is safer abroad. This is true and untrue. True because there are many western governments whose policies allow investors to feel safe, however the profit margins are very low. And there is also risk," he said.

"The Arab world is the best place to invest your money because most of the polices of the Arab governments are seeking to attract investment and give more opportunities to encourage investors.

Beirut 14-02-2005
Habib Battah
The Daily Star



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