Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders on Wednesday urged for stronger trade and political relations between Europe and the Arab World.
"We are trying to enhance trade and economic relations between Belgium and the Arab World and the EU and Arab World," he told an Economic Forum organized by the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce (ABLCC) in Brussels. "We cannot be indifferent to the tragic events in the region but we need to strengthen bilateral political dialogue with our partners in particular on developments in Iraq and Syria, on the fight against (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) ISIL, on the problem of foreign fighters," he said.
"We need to do more about the conflict in the Middle East," Reynders added, calling for a two-state solution to the Palestine question. "We have also to pay attention to the situation in Iraq and Syria. The situation in Iraq and Syria has huge influence on the regional countries as there are huge number of refugees in Jordan and Lebanon," said Reynders who was the keynote speaker at the event.
The theme of the 9th Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Economic Forum was "building a brighter future through partnership." Jordan was the guest country at the forum.
Reynders said that the organization of this event which aims to promote Jordan as a business hub in the region "is a positive and constructive initiative. " "We hope to learn more about Jordan's economic programs and try to promote a greater synergy between Jordan and Belgium. At this stage only few Belgian companies are present in Jordan, mainly in phosphate extraction. However, Belgian companies can invest and provide very valuable expertise in energy, electricity, water, transport," he said.
On his part, Jordanian Finance Minister Umayya Tukan , who is a former Jordanian ambassador to Belgium , said the countries of the Middle East and North Africa region are going through a historical process of transition.
Some suggest that the feeling of inequity and exclusion may had been the main reason underlying what wascalled the Arab Spring, Tukan said.
He added that the global economy still seems to be suffering from conflicts between the economic interests of countries, noting that economists have warned that the feeling of inequality will ultimately lead to violence and extremism.
Tukan said Jordan has been implementing a rigorous reform program since 2012.
"We withdrew from generalized subsidies in electricity and other sectors and raised electricity tariffs. Jordan has introduced a monthly fuel price adjustment mechanism related to international market oil price and redirected part of the savings to cash transfer that better target and improve development," said the Jordanian Minister.
Jordan also took fiscal and other measures to respond to the difficult regional situation due to the crisis in Syria as well as other crises, he added.
Johan Berlandt, ABLCC President, noted that Arab countries are the seventh largest trading partner in Belgium In 2013, trade exchange between Belgium and the Arab World amounted to 20 billion euro and Belgian exports increased by 2 percent to the Arab countries in 2014.
Carlo Thelen, Director General of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the facilities his country offers to foreign investors, as well as Islamic financing and banking.
Other topics addressed today covered banking, finance, energy and water, technology and innovation.