German-Arab trade up despite regional tensions

4th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

4 June 2004 , BERLIN - Trade between Germany and the Arab world continues to rise despite Middle East tensions, said officials attending a major German-Arab trade conference in Berlin.

4 June 2004

BERLIN - Trade between Germany and the Arab world continues to rise despite Middle East tensions, said officials attending a major German-Arab trade conference in Berlin.

"Our trade has developed dynamically despite regional tensions and military conflict," said Alfred Tacke, deputy head of Germany's economics and labour super-ministry.

Tacke, speaking at the 7th annual German-Arab Economic Forum attended by 700 German and Arab politicians and business leaders, said German imports from Arab states grew by 5 percent in 2003 to total EUR 7.2 billion.

German exports to the Arab world were worth EUR 14.6 billion last year, he said, adding this amounted to 2.5 percent of all German exports making the region a more important market for Germany than either Asia's ASEAN states or South America.

The European Union (EU) has signed association agreements with all Mediterranean states (except Libya) which will result in the entire region having free trade with the 25-nation EU by 2012, said Tacke.

But he stressed the key precondition for major expansion of German business ties in the Arab region was Mideast peace and stability.

Germany strongly opposed the Iraq war and Tacke bluntly noted: "The situation in Iraq is not calming down under the coalition..."

"The decisive issue now is restoring sovereignty on the basis of broad legitimacy," he said.

Tacke said the so-called road map for peace between Israel and the Palestinians was the only way forward. The road map calls for creation of an independent Palestinian state by 2005.

Turning to next week's Group of Eight (G8) summit in the US which is expected to focus on Mideast reform, Tacke said change could only come about in the Arab world if it was supported by the people and could not be forced upon the region from the outside.

"The West including Europe and Germany can offer help and advice to states which want to reform," said Tacke, adding: "But the decisive political parametres must be set by the individual states involved."

DPA

Subject: German news

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