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Source: Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
13 September 2004

Preparations Gain Momentum for the Arab-International
Forum for Rehabilitation and Development in Palestine

In the course of preparations for the “Arab-International Forum on Rehabilitation and Development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Towards an Independent State” organized by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) from 11 to 14 October 2004 at the UN-House, Beirut, a “Workshop on Palestinian-Arab Private Sector Partnership” was held 4 to 5 September at the Dead Sea, Jordan, to discuss effective ways the Arab private sector can support its Palestinian counterpart.

The workshop identified the role of the Arab private sector in facilitating the access of Palestinian products into Arab markets. Under the current political and security conditions, the Palestinian private sector is burdened with constraints on its ability to compete in local and export markets, especially in light of the fast rate of international trade developments. More particularly, the Palestinian private sector suffers from increased losses in local market share, decreased productive capacity and profitability, problems with financial liquidity and a rise in the cost of production and transportation. These problems are aggravated by the fact that Palestinian products also face difficulties in entering several Arab markets. Thus, Arab support is crucial in assisting the Palestinian economy to integrate in the wider Arab economy.

The League of Arab States (LAS) brought together 25 Arab economic organizations and funds in Cairo from 7 to 8 September 2004 to discuss ways and means of enhancing their contribution to the rehabilitation and development of the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). In light of the Palestinian Development strategy presented at the meeting, the participants elaborated the most effective means to support the rehabilitation and development process in the OPT.

ESCWA Executive Secretary Mervat Tallawy said at the opening of the workshop that there is now a pressing need to redirect international and Arab efforts toward achieving middle- and long-term social and economic development at a par with offering fast relief to the Palestinian people. Tallawy noted the goals of the Forum, which focus on providing Palestinians with the chance to present their views, programs, and expectations on development in the various economic and social sectors; to re-establish a link between the occupied Palestinian territory, the Palestinian economy, their Arab milieu, which is a natural extension and a supportive safety net for the Palestinian development process; to boost the Arab-Palestinian partnership in rehabilitation and development efforts in the OPT; emphasizing the responsibility of the international community and its commitments toward the Palestinian people; and keeping the economic and social issues of the OPT on the work agenda of the international community.

(excerpted from ESCWA Weekly News, Issue 38/52, 13 September 2004)

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