UAE - Inter-Arab trade currently stands at $700 billion, making for 10-11% of global trade, said Dr Khaled Hanafi, Secretary-General of the Union of Arab Chambers.

In statements to Emirates News Agency (WAM) on the sidelines of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi, he pointed to the necessity of fostering growth by standardising specifications, enhancing logistics, and promoting private sector involvement.

He underscored the potential for increased trade, business opportunities, employment, and GDP growth across Arab nations.

Preferred hub

Hanafi said that the UAE's trade achievements, notably in fostering free trade and investment, are seen as pivotal for global economic growth. Its strategic positioning and robust infrastructure make it a preferred hub for global businesses, attracting investors, traders, and producers seeking access to international markets.

He explained that investors worldwide regard the UAE as a launching pad for global market penetration due to its facilitative infrastructure and market accessibility. The country's hosting of prestigious international events like COP28 and the WTO Ministerial Conference underscores its global leadership, communication prowess, and influence in international forums.

He said that the Arab region's presence in such events aids in shaping policies for freer global trade. The convening of the WTO Ministerial Conference in the UAE is highlighted as pivotal, conveying significant messages for international and Arab trade.

Enhancing participation

Emphasising the importance of WTO rules in international trade, the Secretary-General underscored the need to leverage these regulations to safeguard interests and enhance participation effectively.

Hanafi said that the conference also bolsters the Union of Arab Chambers' role in representing the Arab private sector within the WTO, potentially leading to observer status in key technical committees. This advancement enables the Union to wield greater influence in decisions impacting international trade movements.

The private sector in the Arab region contributes significantly, constituting over 75% of the GDP, approximately $3 trillion, and plays a substantial role in employment generation.

Dr Hanafi stressed the imperative of extensive private sector involvement in trade to foster business growth and sustainable development across Arab nations.

Economic cooperation

As the premier non-governmental Arab economic institution, the Union of Arab Chambers advocates for economic cooperation and integration among Arab countries. With membership comprising chambers of commerce, industry, and agriculture from 22 League of Arab States member nations, the Union strives to enhance regional economic ties.

Hanafi emphasised the Union's pivotal role in enhancing trade cooperation among Arab nations on both commercial and investment fronts. Additionally, he advocates for the establishment of the Arab Common Market and outlines fundamental principles essential for realising economic unity among Arab countries.

Furthermore, the Union of Arab Chambers actively supports governmental and civil society initiatives aimed at fostering integration and coordination across various economic sectors, including commerce, industry, agriculture, finance, investment and services.

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