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PRESS RELEASE

Seeking Collaboration and Shared Knowledge, League of Arab States and World Bank Group Agree on Economic Integration Agenda

January 18, 2011

Sharm el-Sheikh, January 18, 2011 – To strengthen and enhance collaboration in the areas of economic and social development in the Arab World, the League of Arab States (LAS) and the World Bank Group today signed a memorandum of understanding at the Second Arab Economic, Social and Development Summit being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

Amr Mousa, Secretary General of the League of Arab States said he welcomes the memorandum of understanding as it is related to the objectives that the League of Arab States is trying to achieve, namely. promoting economic and social development in the region and overcoming the obstacles facing economic integration among the countries of the region.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mahmoud Mohieldin, Managing Director of the World Bank said that the institution will continue to exert every effort to assure its responsiveness to country’s development needs as well as address priorities specified by Arab countries that strengthen economic integration.

He added that the MOU will expedite the development of regional activities that invest in Arab human capital, infrastructure and MSME development. “There are enormous gains to be made by Arab countries through adopting a regional approach to key economic and social development challenges,” he said. “Better integration both regionally and globally will help Arab countries achieve higher and sustainable economic growth which is critical to productively employ the growing work force, particularly the young.”

Summing up the importance of this partnership for the future of the region, Shamshad Akhtar, Vice President of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa noted the significant economic and social progress made by the countries of the Arab world.  “Achieving higher and more sustainable economic growth and confronting the major challenges of employment, diversification, competitiveness, and environmental sustainability in the rapidly changing global context, can be achieved even faster through a more economically integrated region,” she said.

This MOU commits the World Bank as a steadfast partner ready to put its knowledge and resources behind Arab world efforts towards economic development in the region.”

The LAS and the World Bank Group agreed to foster co-operation and coordination on the economic and social development agenda particularly as they relate to education; scientific research; the knowledge society; health care; gender issues; youth issues; tackling the employment challenge; trade and investment; private sector development; access to finance for micro, small and medium enterprises; infrastructure; poverty alleviation; and, climate change.

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PRESS RELEASE NO:
2011/296/MNA