28 November 2007, Cairo, Egypt
|Arab and OECD countries launch new initiatives to promote investment in MENA region
The MENA-OECD Investment Ministerial Meeting which took place in Cairo demonstrated the success of cooperation among the MENA and OECD member countries in the framework of the MENA-OECD Investment Programme. Held in Cairo on 28 November with the participation of the Prime Minister of Egypt, Ahmed Nazif and the OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, the Meeting was preceded by a Women Business Leaders Forum and a Private-Public Sector dialogue. It drew about 80 delegations from MENA and OECD countries as well as international organisations and over thousand participants from Egypt and all over the MENA region. Business Associations and company representatives participated in impressive numbers from all MENA countries.
The meeting was opened and closed by the Egyptian Minister for Investment Mahmoud Mohieldin and OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, who also participated in the Women Business Leaders Forum.
Speaking at the opening of the Business Forum, Mr. Gurría hailed the advances made over the past few years. “The regional economy has been growing at a solid annual average rate of five percent since 2001,” he noted. “Foreign direct investment flows to the region have more than quadrupled during the past three years, while exports have expanded spectacularly and unemployment has fallen.”
But this is just a beginning, Mr. Gurría added, insisting on the need for further reforms to improve the investment climate. One of the keys to future development, he pointed out, will lie in the ability of countries in the region to enable women to engage in business and economic activities.
“No country can raise the standard of living of its people without the contribution of half of its population,” Mr. Gurría said. “The experience of OECD countries shows that women are fundamental agents of economic growth and development.”
The inauguration session: (L-R) Mr. Angel Gurría – Secretary-General, OECD; H.E. Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin – Minister of Investment, Egypt ; H.E. Dr. Ahmed Nazif – Prime Minister, Egypt - Sir Derek Plumbly, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Egypt, United Kingdom
News release: Arab, OECD countries launch new initiatives to promote investment in MENA region, 27 November 2007
Making Investment Reforms Succeed, Opening Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
In his address to the opening of the 2nd MENA-OECD ministerial meeting, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif described the MENA-OECD investment programme as “the means to support the region’s economic growth”. “The economies of MENA countries are growing but they need to grow faster and there is still a huge gap between OECD and non-OECD countries economically and technologically,” Mr. Nazif added.
Egyptian minister of investment Mahmoud Mohieldine said the second phase of the MENA-OECD investment programme would work with countries to achieve reform through evaluation of needs, definition of priorities and support in implementation using the new Business Climate Development Strategy.
A number of tangible outcomes resulted from this meeting, including:
• Mandate for the second phase of the MENA Investment Initiative from the Ministers and Heads of Delegations was obtained and directions for the future work of the Programme, including the Business Climate Development Strategy (BCDS) were outlined in the Ministerial Declaration;
• The new instrument for the second phase - the Business Climate Development Strategy - jointly developed by the OECD and the World Bank, was launched at the Ministerial Meeting. Several countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco expressed an interest to be in the first group of countries covered by the Initiative which will provide a comprehensive and interactive approach to priority setting for reform, evaluation result and capacity building;
• For the first time, a Declaration emanating from a Women Business Leaders Forum Fostering Women’s Entrepreneurship in the MENA region was presented to Ministers, advocating measures to increase women participation in the economies of the region. The establishment of a MENA-OECD women entrepreneurship network is being considered following expression of interest by participants.
• The Business Statement, drafted jointly by the Chairman of the Federation of Arab Businessmen and the Business and Industry Advisory Council, with input from national chambers and business associations, showed the significant input provided by the private sector in Programme’s activities;
• A Declaration on Tax Policy Development Supportive of Investment, resulting from the work of the Working Group on taxation, was equally noted;
• Ministers agreed on a new regional activity on responsible business conduct to be conducted within the framework of the Programme;
• A kick-off meeting for the Iraqi National Investment Reform Agenda held with government and private sector representatives agreed on the work plan for investment and anti-corruption activities to be conducted;
• Qatar has expressed their wish to lead a new Task Force on capital markets development and supervision;
• Stronger cooperation with regional and international institutions and organisations will occur in the second phase, and to this end, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the OECD Secretary- General and the UNIDO Director-General, Mr. Kandeh Yumkella during the Ministerial Meeting;
• The meeting also offered opportunities for creating investment linkages - a matchmaking facility was hosted by the UNIDO and attended by 300 businesses from across the region;
• The meeting equally set new priorities for the future work of the MENA-OECD Investment Programme, including human resources development, infrastructure, youth integration in the economy and access to finance.