At the Opening Session of the 7th German Foreign Trade Congress
13 November 2007
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you. I am pleased to be with you in Bremen today, and it's a pleasure to be back in Germany to meet friends, old and new. I speak for all Jordanians, when I say that your country is one of our most valued friends - a voice of leadership for our neighbours in Europe ... and our partner in global business and diplomacy.
Vital to that partnership - indeed, vital to the outlook for our regions as a whole - are the trade issues and interests that this Congress is here to discuss. So I feel greatly honoured to be invited to be with you, and to help to open this important event.
We meet at a time when global distance is shrinking rapidly - but the global future is expanding. Never before have there been greater opportunities for progress. Never has the global economy been able to give hope to so many people.
The private sector is central to today's advances and hopes. Not just large corporations, but small- and medium-size businesses, and visionary entrepreneurs, have driven global growth. By opening new markets; by innovating and thinking ahead; by building opportunity - you have re-shaped the future for billions of people.
This wealth-creating flow of trade and investment is critical to emerging economies - especially to economies seeking sustainable progress. But trade and investment is an equal concern for the continued prosperity of the advanced economies as well. Our challenge today is to understand that nexus, and together, seize the opportunities before us.
In this room are many of the people who make the global economy go - who make the decisions where, when and how to trade and invest and partner across borders. And many of you know first-hand what the experts confirm: doing business in emerging economies benefits both sides.
For foreign companies that enter emerging markets, there are valuable connections: to in-country markets and regional trading networks; to a competitive workforce; to important knowledge about regional cultures and customers. Such businesses find significant trade and investment opportunities - especially in economies like Jordan's, which are on a path of modernisation and growth ... and which are regional gateways ... in our case, to the 300-million people of the Arab World. On a strategic level, building business in emerging markets helps create a counter-balance against market shifts and slowdowns elsewhere. And that contributes to the global economic vitality and stability that we all seek.
For the emerging economies, private-sector-led growth is, quite simply, the engine of sustainable development. It expands markets, promotes the transfer of knowledge and technology, and increases opportunities. It also requires sound fiscal and monetary policies, hard decisions and long-term commitment to structural reform, the rule of law, and much more.
In fact, experience has shown that the same economic activity that puts developing countries on the ladder to prosperity ... also helps keep them from falling back. Securing our gains is a principal goal of the G-11. Ours is a group of eleven lower-middle-income countries – from Latin America, to Eastern Europe, to the Middle East and Asia – with a proven commitment to reform and growth-based development. We've achieved results and we are poised to move ahead and stabilise at higher income levels. I believe this success will send an important signal to all developing nations that a commitment to reform and global cooperation is the right direction to go.
Leading nations have both a strategic interest in our success, and an ability to help. That means getting beyond old assistance models, to put the focus where it does the most good: keeping the doors open to progress and growth. We've asked the G-8 industrial nations for close cooperation, on shared interests such as market access, development partnerships, and investment. Germany, as the rotating G-8 president, has welcomed that dialogue. Tomorrow, I shall join Chancellor Merkel at the first summit meeting of our two groups. One major focus will be finding mechanisms to encourage private-sector-led growth. And I am confident that the G-11 - G-8 partnership will grow, to the benefit of both.
Nowhere is the role of private-sector trade and investment more important than in the Middle East. My region is a well-spring of resources and capabilities that the world needs - and a strategic centre of cultures. But there are major economic challenges to be faced. Regional conflicts have delayed and destroyed the futures of millions, and diverted resources and attention from development. There are unacceptable levels of unemployment and hardship, fuelling frustration. I am especially concerned on behalf of the region's growing youth population - young men and women of talent and potential, who expect and deserve the opportunity to build positive, thriving futures.
Today, the Arab world recognises the private sector's contributions to a better future. Leaders from the region - private sector, civil society, and public officials - have worked together to design innovative approaches to development. I am proud that Jordan has taken an active role.
Within the region, we have been a strong voice, not only for peace, but for the day after peace. We have encouraged private-public partnerships that can create an economic framework of new opportunity and cross-border cooperation.
At home, we have not waited for external events to shape our future. We have made deep structural reforms - economic, political, social - to give people a better future, and allow them to become stakeholders in progress. We have built on Jordan's stability and security to make our country a regional and global gateway. Special economic zones, and our many free-trade agreements, allow Jordan-based businesses to find markets around the world.
These and other reforms have achieved results. But we cannot do it alone. Our international partners play a key role in progress. And it is necessary that this partnership continue, not just with Jordan but the entire region. The European-Mediterranean Partnership recognises that bond, as well as the central role of the private sector in development. Germany, too, has given active and long-term support.
Two years ago we established the German-Jordanian University, a unique regional institution that focuses strongly on market-oriented and technical knowledge. It will form part of our joint approach as we go forward in our partnership to create new opportunities for sustainable development.
I hope you will join the dialogue on private-sector contributions to development. I hope you will seek, with us, new mechanisms for private-public partnerships. And I hope you will help develop the tremendous possibilities for increased trade and investment between our regions. Those of you who are not already working in the Middle East, I invite to come and discover its potential.
It is in the power of the world's private sector to advance progress. You have the opportunity - to build a global economy that thrives, to build prosperity that lasts; to shape a new future, as you have shaped the past.
It is an opportunity we must seize. The partnership among us can change the lives of millions of people. Working together, we can succeed.
Thank you very much.