Return to: Index of 1996 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

U.S. Department of State
96/11/12 Address at Cairo Economic Conference
Office of the Spokesman

                       U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                        OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN
                            (Cairo, Egypt) 
TEXT AS DELIVERED                                    November 12, 1996

                              ADDRESS BY

                 Cairo International Conference Center
                            November 12, 1996

	Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:  On behalf of President 
Clinton, I want to express my deep gratitude to President Mubarak and to 
the people of Egypt for hosting this third annual economic conference.  
I also want to express my enormous appreciation to the more than 1,500 
business people, from over 70 countries, who are attending this 
conference.  Their willingness to invest in a better future is what 
brings us together here today.

	We have come to Cairo, to this city of greatness -- ancient and 
modern -- because we share a vision of a prosperous Middle East at 
peace.  We share a conviction that if this vision is to be realized, the 
peace process must move forward in both its political and economic 
dimensions at the same time.  And we share a commitment to deepen the 
partnership between governments and the private sector so that peace can 
endure and thrive.

	Today the world can look to Cairo, to this economic conference, as 
a vote of confidence in the peace process -- a peace process that has 
already brought us so far.  And we can once again thank President 
Mubarak for reminding the region and the world of the stake that we have 
in peace.

	President Mubarak shares this great responsibility with other 
leaders of wisdom and good will.  Two years ago, King Hassan convened 
the first Middle East and North Africa Economic Summit in Casablanca.  
There we opened up a whole new dimension of the peace process to 
complement the political negotiations launched in Madrid five years 
earlier.  Last year, King Hussein brought us together in Amman to build 
new bridges of prosperity across old barriers of hostility. 

	It was also to the Economic Summit in Amman that Prime Minister 
Rabin made his last journey for peace.  The Prime Minister spoke to the 
entire Middle East when he said this:  "So far we have invested much 
blood, much time, and much money in a product which may have been 
essential for our national existences but of little benefit for our 
citizens.  We invested in war.  Today, and from here on, we are 
committed to invest in peace."  Just one week later, sadly, tragically, 
the peace process lost one of its strongest champions.

	There is no doubt that the peace process has been tested -- tested 
severely -- by the traumas in the last year since Prime Minister Rabin's 
assassination.  But over the last year, and especially in recent weeks, 
the peace process has also demonstrated great resilience.  Arabs and 
Israelis alike know what war means.  They have already glimpsed the 
promise of peace.  By looking back into the abyss, both Arabs and 
Israelis recognized the imperative of moving forward.

	Both Palestinians and Israelis, like all the peoples of the 
region, have a fundamental self-interest in bringing this conflict to an 
end.  They understand that this decades-long conflict can long be 
resolved in phases over time.  They remain committed to resolve this 
conflict through the structure of the negotiations that they have built 
together.  And they are coming to accept that without peace there can be 
no security, and without security there can be no peace.

	In the wake of the recent violence, Israel and the Palestinians 
have pledged to uphold the agreements they have negotiated and carry out 
the commitments they have made.  The current negotiations have been 
intensive and at times frustrating.  But I believe that a final set of 
very specific understandings on Hebron is close at hand.  And once those 
negotiations finally succeed, I urge the parties to move ahead with the 
same urgency to implement the remainder of the Interim Agreement.

	For these and future negotiations to succeed, each side must go 
the extra mile to understand the needs of the other -- to take their 
requirements into account.  Each side must accept that to succeed, there 
can be no winners and no losers.  Each side must win and be seen to win 
-- or both sides will lose.  Each side must recognize that it is not 
possible to make peace without taking risks -- but that maintaining the 
status quo poses even greater risks for their future. 

	Each side should also know this:  the United States will continue 
to help them take those risks and support them along the hard, long 
journey to peace.  Peace in the Middle East is a vital national interest 
of the United States.  That is why President Clinton has made such a 
strong personal commitment to stand with the peace makers at every step 
of the way over the last four years.  That is why the newly reelected 
President and the next Secretary of State will continue to make the 
advancement of the Middle East peace process a top priority over the 
next four years.

	There are historic gains to preserve, gains on which the parties 
can build.  There are two landmark agreements between Israel and the 
Palestinians -- and pathbreaking cooperation to fight terrorism and 
violence.  There is the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan -- and a 
new set of diplomatic and commercial contacts between Israel and its 
Arab neighbors.  There is the opportunity for a comprehensive peace that 
includes Syria and Lebanon -- a peace that must finally be achieved if 
this region is to enjoy real security.  And there is, of course, the 
founding pillar of peace still firmly in place -- and that is the peace 
between Egypt and Israel.

	We can see how far we have really come if we look at ourselves -- 
if we look at this economic conference.  Despite all the setbacks and 
uncertainties of recent months, more and higher-level business 
representatives from around the world are here in Cairo than have ever 
before assembled  at one time in the region.  You recognize opportunity 
amidst the risk.  And you are attracted by the reforms that are making 
the Middle East and North Africa a more hospitable business environment.  

	Your profit strategies are perfectly complementary to our 
strategies for peace.  Private sector capital is the most direct way to 
translate the abstract promise of peace into concrete benefits that can 
lift the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people.  By giving 
individuals and communities a stake in peace, you can pave the way for 
true reconciliation among peoples and nations.  By crisscrossing borders 
with new electrical grids, fiber optic cables and gas pipelines, you can 
integrate the region's economies and make war ever less likely.

	The process that we launched in Casablanca two years ago, and that 
we renew today, will reinforce our partnership for peace and prosperity.  
By bringing so many business people together, we are generating the 
contacts that can lead to contracts.  We are showcasing opportunities 
available in our host country, Egypt, and the other countries 
participating here.  And we are giving fresh impetus to the new 
institutions that will promote economic development and cooperation 
across the region.

	The Middle East-Mediterranean Travel and Tourism Association is 
now established, with a secretariat in Tunis.  It is working with the 
private sector to develop the enormous potential for tourism that these 
lands of miracles and monuments hold for us.  And the Regional Business 
Council is poised to become an important forum for exchanging business 
information, publicizing investment opportunities, and developing ways 
to support the private sector.

	We are making progress toward opening the flagship regional 
institution, the Middle East Development Bank.  I am pleased to say that 
the United States will sign the Bank's Charter next week and we will 
send representatives to the Bank's Transition Team to Cairo later this 
month.  The Bank's mission is to be a catalyst -- to support key private 
sector projects and to focus on the region's growing infrastructure 
needs.  The Clinton Administration will work with the new Congress to 
gain strong American backing for the Bank so that it can become 
operational by the end of next year.  I urge other nations to come 
forward now to support the Bank's funding needs.

	For too long, this region has been held back by the ravages of 
conflict and war -- and by the inefficiencies of statist and 
protectionist economic policies.  It faces a dual challenge if it is to 
prosper.  To compete effectively, this region must not only make peace.  
It must reform.

	Two years ago in Casablanca and again last year in Amman, I called 
upon the governments of the Middle East and North Africa to meet this 
challenge -- to modernize their economies, open up their markets, crack 
down on corruption, and remove the bureaucratic bottlenecks and 
regulatory obstacles that have for too long scared off investors and 
drained away precious capital.  Today we can see encouraging progress 
across the region.

	Here in Egypt, reform is brightening the prospects for growth and 
attracting the interest of foreign companies and investors, as President 
Mubarak so clearly outlined this morning.  The government has already 
privatized over 100 companies.  It has cut tariffs on capital goods, and 
eased registration procedures for investors.  The new stand-by 
arrangement with the IMF will help support Egypt as it consolidates 
these and other business-friendly reforms, such as restructuring the tax 
system.  Egypt is also making important progress in strengthening its 
protection of intellectual property rights.  That is one reason why 
Microsoft decided to open a regional office here in Cairo.  Over 50 
American companies now have manufacturing operations in Egypt, 
demonstrating confidence in the growing potential of this market -- and 
that number will certainly grow.  The United States will continue to 
develop our economic cooperation with Egypt through the partnership led 
by President Mubarak and Vice President Gore.

	Jordan's recent reforms, from adopting a new investment law to 
lowering trade barriers, are also beginning to modernize its economy.  
The capitalization of its stock market is increasing rapidly.  American 
companies, from Sheraton to Sprint, are seizing opportunities to help 
Jordan build its infrastructure.  I am delighted to announce that only 
yesterday, the United States and Jordan signed an Open Skies Agreement 
to fully liberalize commercial aviation between us.  It is the first 
such agreement we have reached outside of Europe, and I hope that we can 
negotiate  similar agreements with others in this region soon to make 
both business and tourist travel more efficient. 

	Israel is also carrying out important reforms that are giving its 
economy a new dynamism.  Privatization is contributing to growth and 
attracting foreign investment.  Israeli and Arab business people from 
virtually all the countries represented here today are forging links 
that were inconceivable just several years ago.  I am very encouraged by 
Prime Minister Netanyahu's commitment to deepen economic reform.  And I 
am confident that trade and investment between the United States and 
Israel and the other countries in this region will continue to expand.

	Today I want to encourage greater American economic engagement 
across the Middle East and North Africa -- from the dynamic Gulf States 
to Morocco and Tunisia, two countries that are taking so many positive 
steps to encourage trade and foreign investment.  I also want to salute 
the Israeli and Arab business people who have begun to build 
relationships to move forward.  You are definitely pioneers for peace, 
and we need your courage and perseverance now more than ever.

	But most urgently of all, I want to encourage you to invest in 
peace where it can make the greatest difference.  Economic conditions in 
the West Bank and Gaza have not prospered as we had hoped.  They must 
improve -- and improve quickly -- if we are to give Palestinians a full 
and tangible stake in peace.

	We must work together to help the Palestinians build a prosperous 
free market economy and overcome the barriers to the flow of goods, 
services and people.  President Clinton has recently signed legislation 
to grant duty-free access for Palestinian exports to the United States.  
We hope our major trading partners will take similar steps.  
We are also working to establish special industrial zones that can 
become magnets for investment, jobs and especially for hope. 

	As Secretary of State, in my frequent travel to this region, I 
have spent the bulk of my time talking to government leaders and 
diplomats.  One reason I value these economic conferences so much is 
that they give me a chance to speak to the business community so well 
represented here today.  When I am with you, I feel I am also addressing 
the vast majority of the people in the region who speak the common 
language of commerce and who share our vision of a better future.  You 
are indeed the constituency for peace.

	You have already waited too long to see this region's borders 
become open gateways, not fortified barriers, to trade and investment.  
You have an interest in pushing for progress in the peace process.  And 
you have a responsibility to work with the governments of this region to 
wipe out the barriers and boycotts and prejudices and taboos that 
obstruct commerce and hold this region back.

	We share a common purpose, and we have mutually supporting roles 
to play.  We both understand that there can be no lasting peace for the 
Middle East without rising prosperity -- and that there can be no 
lasting prosperity in this region without a deepening peace.  If we 
build on the diplomatic and economic progress we have already made, a 
new millennium of peace and prosperity will soon dawn over these ancient 
lands.   Thank you very much. 

To the top of this page