At the Asia-Middle East Business Forum
Singapore City, Singapore
27 April 2005
Your Excellency, thank you for your very kind introduction. It is an honour to join you today. And thank you all for your warm welcome.
Let me say, it is significant to be meeting here in Singapore. This country has made itself a powerhouse on the regional and global scene. That's a credit to Singapore's determined people, people with a purpose and a vision for the future. I believe the world has something to learn from Singapore's experience and from Asia's other success stories. And my friends, I'm listening – and so are my colleagues who are here from the Middle East.
I want to say just a few words, because I think your own discussions are the heart of today's event. This is a very important time for these meetings. Both our regions face the challenges of growth in a global economy. Both our regions have urgent development needs. I believe there are tremendous opportunities if we work together.
This meeting is a recognition of the key role of the private sector in moving economies forward. Your positive impact is doubled where there's a strong public-private partnership, because that cooperation can create the needed environment for growth. And in a global economy, the impact is doubled again where there are strong, direct, cross-border business relationships, relationships that open doors and opportunities. So we are talking about exponential growth and promise from meetings such as this.
Let me thank especially the members of the Arab Business Council who have worked to make these events succeed. They have had a critical role in the progress of our region.
Today, in the Middle East, reform is accelerating. And that's very largely the result of an inclusive process, one that taps the energies of individuals throughout society. I meet and work with people from the private sector, from NGOs, from universities, and more – and I can tell you, there's a real sense of purpose and dynamism.
It's a new kind of energy sector. The energy of people-first policies and new hope.
Reform has many aspects. It obviously includes political reforms to give citizens a stake in progress. There must be transparent, accountable institutions. We are serious about combating corruption, which is an enemy of public confidence and drains a nation's resources. And we are strengthening the economic infrastructure for global growth and presence. I know you will hear about this in greater depth this afternoon.
Let me say it clearly: Jordan is committed to providing an enabling environment for progress. We want to make it easy for people and enterprises to interact, exchange ideas and work together. This kind of partnership is a vehicle for opportunity on both sides, bringing two-way benefits.
Positive change in the Arab world must be homegrown – just as it has been in Asia. But we know that we don't stand alone. Dialogue and cooperation with other regions is essential, especially with, and within, the private sector.
We are here today, together, to explore some of those ideas and avenues. The dialogue has already begun. Some of you joined me for the meetings in Malaysia last year. Others have helped prepare for the new Asia-Middle East Dialogue that will be held next June. I know I speak for you all when I thank His Excellency Goh for all he has done to encourage and launch this landmark initiative. He understood the importance of an ongoing, institutional mechanism, one that can centre our efforts as the partnership moves forward.
But at the end of the day, it is you, the private sector leaders from our regions, who will drive the engine. Your meetings today can fuel that dialogue. I am grateful to each of you for participating. And I know you all join me in thanking our Singaporean hosts for their generous hospitality.
I wish you all the best, today and in the days ahead. Your good work can make a difference for millions of people.
Thank you very much