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U.S. Department of State
95/10/29 Address: Transforming Middle East: Public/Private Partnership
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
Text As Prepared For Delivery October 29, 1995
THE AMMAN ECONOMIC SUMMIT:
TRANSFORMING THE MIDDLE EAST
THROUGH A PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
Sports City Complex
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: On behalf of President Clinton and
the United States, I want to express my deep gratitude to King Hussein,
Crown Prince Hassan and the people of Jordan for hosting this Economic
Your Majesty, for four decades, you have been a force for peace in a
region that has known so much war. You have infused your kingdom with a
spirit of civility and tolerance. And working together with Prime
Minister Rabin, Chairman Arafat, President Mubarak, King Hassan, and
others, your vision and courage is transforming the Middle East.
Four short years ago, the Madrid Conference launched a process that has
demonstrated that negotiations can succeed. Enemies can become
partners. And across lands whose ancient religions have long inspired
humanity, peace can prevail.
One month ago in Washington, we witnessed another historic agreement
between the Prime Minister of Israel and the Chairman of the PLO.
Building on the 1993 Declaration of Principles, the deal they signed
marks a great step forward toward the shining goal of Israeli-
And just one year ago, in the desert south of Amman, the world watched
as you, Your Majesty, and Prime Minister Rabin built a bridge of peace
between your two peoples. Last week, Israel and Jordan signed
agreements on agriculture, economic cooperation, and development in the
Gulf of Aqaba-- agreements that will bring the concrete benefits of
If these accomplishments are to be truly secure, peace must be
comprehensive. It must be extended to include both Syria and Lebanon.
Today, I want to reaffirm, on behalf of President Clinton, that the
United States will continue to work with the parties to help them
achieve a breakthrough for peace.
We also know that peace must reach beyond diplomats and documents.
Agreements between governments are the basis of peace. But the reality
of peace is found in deeds, not words. Peace is the construction boom
in Gaza, a four-fold increase in foreign investment in Israel, the
desalination center planned in Oman, and the tour package jointly
promoted by El Al and Royal Jordanian Airlines.
For too long, this has been a region of warriors and widows. Let it
again become a region of builders and traders. Let its future be shaped
by the imagination and ingenuity of its entrepreneurs, the knowledge and
curiosity of its children, and the wisdom and memory of its peoples.
This vision of a prosperous peace first brought us together a year ago
in Casablanca. Here in Amman, we will fulfill the pledges we made in
Casablanca. We will launch a series of regional institutions that share
an overarching purpose-- to improve the ability of the private sector to
do business in the Middle East, and to promote the region's economic
development and integration.
First, we will create the Bank for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The Bank's establishment is a major milestone-- not least because it is
the first such initiative put forward by the parties to the peace
process themselves. Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinians, and Israel all
agreed on the need for a bank that would support the region's most
worthy private sector projects, promote essential infrastructure
development, and encourage privatization and wide-ranging economic
The United States is committed to ensuring that the Bank meets these
critical needs, and that it is governed by strict rules of
accountability. The Bank must complement, not duplicate, the efforts of
other institutions such as the World Bank. The Bank must learn from the
experience of similar regional institutions. We will work with our
partners in the region and the international community to make sure that
the Bank succeeds.
Second, this Summit will establish the Middle East-Mediterranean Travel
and Tourism Association. Open to governments and private firms
everywhere, the Association will harness the world's largest industry--
and one of its best sources of hard currency earnings -- as a catalyst
of regional economic growth. It will encourage cooperation within the
region, and support its integration into global tourism networks.
In these lands of miracles and monuments are the red temples of Petra,
the golden colonnades of Palmyra, the Roman ruins of Caesarea, the vast
amphitheater of Carthage, the giant thrones of Abu Simbel. Peace should
throw the wonders of the Middle East open to the world. Already
Jordan's tourism revenues have doubled in the year since it made peace
with Israel. Other nations can do the same.
Third, we will launch the Regional Business Council with leaders from
private business and government. The Council will be a permanent forum
for exchanging information, developing investment opportunities, and
encouraging a world-class business environment. I want to acknowledge
the role of my Cabinet colleague, Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, in
establishing this voice for business in the region.
Here in Amman, we must also go beyond our work at Casablanca. We must
reinforce our public-private sector partnership for peace and foster
patterns of commercial cooperation across the Middle East. Governments
have a responsibility to lay the foundations for peace and prosperity.
But the private sector has the opportunity to build the structure of a
lasting peace reinforced by rising prosperity.
This public-private partnership is based on three mutually reinforcing
pillars: first, the private sector; second, countries outside the region
that have been at the forefront of efforts to support the peace process;
and third, governments in the region. Let me briefly describe the
unique challenges that each must meet.
The private sector must recognize and seize the business opportunities
that peace is creating. The fact that hundreds of businesspeople have
come to Amman is evidence that they are doing just that.
I am proud to say that among them are more than 125 American companies,
many of whom are leading the way. Lockheed-Martin will conduct a
feasibility study for a regional airport that will link Aqaba in Jordan
and Eilat in Israel. The communications firms Sprint and AT&T will
announce joint ventures with Jordanian partners to hook Jordan up with
the information superhighway. Culligan Water Technologies will sign an
agreement to manufacture bottled water in Jericho. And General Electric
is close to finalizing a large contract to supply Egypt with
Ladies and gentlemen: Last year we announced that the Middle East was
open for business. This year we declare that the Middle East is doing
As the peace process pushes on, agreement by agreement, the risks for
business diminish, day by day. Business can profit while making a
decisive contribution at a moment of rare historic opportunity.
At the same time, governments from outside the Middle East must do their
part to accelerate the momentum of private sector involvement. The
United States will continue to work with its friends around the world to
promote the region's prosperity. We look especially to the European
Union and Japan to continue their significant contributions to this
For our part, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Overseas Private
Investment Corporation, the Exim Bank, and the Trade and Development
Administration are working hard to ensure that American companies can
take full advantage of regional trade and investment opportunities.
These agencies are funding feasibility studies, providing investment
guarantees, and offering risk insurance. OPIC, for example, is
capitalizing a $250 million regional fund for the Middle East and North
The United States has also launched a number of important bilateral
initiatives with key regional parties. With the Palestinians, we have
helped to mobilize the international donor effort, and pledged $500
million in American assistance. Our Trade Representative Mickey Kantor
has just finalized an agreement with the Palestinian Authority to allow
exports from the West Bank and Gaza duty-free access to the American
market. With Jordan, we are considering a bilateral investment treaty,
and we have forgiven more than $700 million of Jordanian debt to the
United States. And with Egypt, we have launched a pathbreaking joint
partnership for economic growth and development under the leadership of
President Mubarak and Vice President Gore.
Of course, it is the governments in the region that bear the greatest
responsibility for making the Middle East a world-class business
environment. In the past, there has been far too much government
regulation and inefficient public investment. Local private capital has
fled the region and foreign capital has found greater incentives
To their credit, many governments in the region are now taking bold
steps to put their economic house in order. Tunisia and Morocco, for
example, have embraced real economic reform. In the last decade,
privatization, deregulation, budget discipline, and currency reform,
among other steps, have produced impressive leaps in economic growth in
both countries. Not surprisingly, the private sector has responded.
Between 1989 and 1994, direct foreign investment in Morocco more than
Jordan is another nation taking important steps toward reform. Its new
investment code will give foreign firms the legal protections they need
to take advantage of Jordan's many opportunities.
But more must be done across the region. Governments need to remove
restrictions on trade and investment. They must reform capital markets,
modernize tax systems, and stamp out corruption. They need to ensure
fair business practices through legal systems and commercial dispute
mechanisms that are transparent and fair. And they must continue to
deregulate and get bureaucracies out of the way of business.
I also call on the region's governments to remove the most harmful
political barrier to greater economic openness. The boycott against
Israel maintains walls at a time when negotiations are bringing them
down. It impedes regional economic integration. The boycott serves no
one. While the boycott is being dismantled and many of the countries
here no longer observe it, the moment is right to end the boycott
All these steps are essential if the region is to attract the skills and
capital of international business. Now is the time for the Middle East
to prepare to compete in the global economy. Now is the time for the
Middle East to reinvent itself for the twenty-first century.
The Middle East is on the verge of reconnecting its rich past to the
boundless possibilities of the future. For centuries, this region
witnessed the constant movement of people, ideas, and goods across its
borders. Linen, glassware, olive oil, incense, pungent spices and
precious metals were traded across the deserts and over the seas. The
world passed through the Middle East, and the Middle East passed through
Today we see this legacy in the Arabic numerals the world uses to count
and in the coffee, first ground from arabica beans, that the world loves
to drink. And we see this legacy in the words we use-- for damask
cloth from Damascus and gauze from Gaza.
As we approach a new millennium, we can revive the trading routes of
centuries past, and create new ones for today. Caravans of culture and
commerce can travel by air, by fax, by microchip, and along the
The Middle East also has old words to return to the world-- and most of
all to itself. Let Salaam and Shalom become the watchwords of a
prosperous new Middle East at peace.
A year ago in Casablanca, I borrowed a line from Humphrey Bogart when I
suggested that the first Summit could be the beginning of a beautiful
friendship. Allow me now to borrow once again from the spirit of that
famous movie. Today, in Amman, it is time to play it again, Sam.
Thank you very much.
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