'New Levant' Conference eyes economic growth

Economy Minister Alain Hakim receives Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank upon his arrival at Beirut airport, Monday, June 2, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Participants in the ‘New Levant’ Conference have announced an action plan targeting regional economic integration Monday, arguing that the plan will provide appropriate conditions for trade and economic growth in the region.

The participants, who included government officials, private sector representatives, international investors and bilateral and multilateral institutions, thanked the World Bank for its research which provided the basis of these talks. They urged all interested parties to cooperate, stressing the importance of “establishing a network of private sector businesses that embraces the deep economic ties between private institutions in the region.”

Participents at the event, which was held at the Hilton Habtoor hotel under the patronage of Prime Minister Tamam Salam, said that the interests of countries in the region require the creation of integrated markets that are competitive, and that enjoy freedom from interference in order to achieve the long-term free movement of labor, capital, goods and services.

Participants also recommended substantial investment in infrastructure development, and identified several projects that cover the transport, energy and communications sectors.

Those attending the Beirut conference stated that “there will be periodic reviews to assess the extent of development and the impact of regional instability on the action plan, and [we] will adopt the necessary changes, and post the results of these audits openly."

They also praised the intention “to remove the obstacles to free trade and mobility of economic factors in the New Levant Region, which was announced on the June 10, 2010 in Istanbul."

Participants acknowledged that "the policy dialogue that were needed to achieve the objectives of the Istanbul conference, have been adversely affected by political events in the region," adding that "the stakeholders are still looking for appropriate policies to facilitate financial and economic integration.”

Those who participated in the Beirut conference agreed to reconvene in Istanbul in September 2014, to contribute to the development of work and to discuss steps needed to achieve the full integration of the Levant.





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