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Arab economic summit reaffirms importance of regional economic integration
Date: 2011/1/21 Click: 1286
Arab country leaders wrapped up the second Arab Economic, Development and Social Summit here Wednesday afternoon with the adoption of a declaration on speeding up regional economic integration.

The declaration, approved by the half-day summit, mainly reaffirmed the determination of Arab leaders to push forward the implementation of a series of economic development programs announced in the resolutions of the Kuwait summit in 2009, although no detailed proposals were shown in the document.

The declaration confirmed the progress made on regional economic integration since the first summit in Kuwait, adding it is the top priority in the economic and social affairs of the Arab world.

It promised to push forward infrastructure construction, especially the railway, maritime transport and grid network program, to realize the long-term goal outlined at the previous summit, while no clear plan of action on these key projects were mentioned.

The declaration said Arab countries will continue to make efforts in establishing the Arab custom union, which will be fully in operation by 2015, with a target to ultimately establish the common Arab market.

Arab leaders also pledged to provide job opportunities for Arab young people to be integrated into society by crystallize the implementation of a proposed two-billion-U.S. dollars fund to support small and medium sized projects in all Arab countries.

The summit comes when economic concerns are turning into political and social turmoil in some Arab countries, including Tunisia, Jordan and Algeria, where protests cropped up over high unemployment, rising prices and rampant corruption, reflecting the deteriorating economic and social conditions in the Arab world.

The implementation of these projects of development, since outlined in the Kuwait summit, has draw criticism for not delivering on its promises in the past two years, partly due to the lasting impact of the global financial crisis on the Arab region.

Commenting on pushing forward the proposal of economic integration at the summit, Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Rashid Mohammad Rashid said on the eve of the meeting that political issues tend to override the economic issues in any joint Arab action, with Arab governments unwilling to give up some of their local authority for the sake of stronger collective Arab economic action.

Ten heads of state, together with chiefs of governments and high level representatives of other member states of the 22-member Arab League attended the summit, which decided Saudi Arabia will host the third session of the summit in 2013.
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