SMEs and strategic structural investments are crucial for the Mediterranean economy in terms of job creation, GDP and purchasing power – PAM/WTO Conference in Rabat

SMEs and strategic structural investments are crucial for the Mediterranean economy in terms of job creation, GDP and purchasing power – PAM/WTO Conference in Rabat
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) co-organised a high-level Parliamentary Conference dedicated to Trade Facilitation and Investments in the Mediterranean Region, hosted by the House of Councillors of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Morocco, in Rabat on 8-9 October 2017.
H.E. Hakim Benchamach, President of the House of Councillors of Morocco, opened the works of the conference and underlined the importance of Intra-Commerce and of Direct Investments, in a context of sustainable development, which is an issue to which Morocco is highly committed. 
He also stressed the intention of Morocco to do its part to contribute in the economic integration process at the international level, within PAM and other bodies such as the African Union, and at a national level, through the many actions taken by the government to create the conditions for a conducive investment climate and with the readiness of the parliament to adopt legislation based on equality and liberty even in the economic sector.
PAM Vice President and President of the 2nd PAM Standing Committee, Sen. Lhou Lmarbouh, underscored the commitment of the parliament of Morocco to the activities of PAM. He stressed that economic prosperity is a condition that can significantly contribute to reach social peace and political stability. Sen. Lmarbouh highlighted the role of MPs in removing the barriers that hamper trade, namely bureaucracy, transport facilities and customs procedures. After listing some of the priorities, such as the need to support south-south trade, he concluded by reiterating that, in spite of the shift in priorities following the Arab Spring and the migratory crisis in the region, PAM is fully committed to foster economic growth as a tool to reach stability.
Mr. Said El Hachimi, Senior Advisor at the World Trade Organization (WTO), said that WTO is pleased to work with PAM and its parliamentarians on the eve of the informal Ministerial meeting of the WTO.  Mr. El Hachimi highlighted protectionism as the main obstacle to trade. He concluded his opening remarks by saying that PAM and WTO share the same approach vis-à-vis their membership, since both organizations value diversity as a resource.
PAM Secretary General, Amb. Sergio Piazzi, recalled the activities of the PAM Economic Panel and Academic Platform, as unique instruments at the disposal of parliamentarians and their partners to identify and address key issues relevant to sustainable socio-economic growth, regional stability and commercial integration, mass migrations and adaptation to climatic changes.
The conference featured speakers from international financial institutions, including UNCTAD, UNECE, EBRD and EIB, national trade agencies and the private sector.  Number of issues were tackled during the event, namely: How the WTO functions; How important are the Multilateral Trade Rules and negotiations for the Mediterranean economies; the current political context and its impact on International Trade in the Mediterranean; the Road to Buenos Aires, Challenges Facing Mediterranean WTO members as they prepare for the 11th Ministerial Conference next December; managing Disputes over Trade; how the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement could foster Trade and Investments flows in the Mediterranean; how are economies in the Mediterranean adapting to new realities of International Trade; the role of SMEs, GVCs, E-Commerce, investment facilitation; Regional Trade Agreements as against Multilateralism debate; interactive debate on how to further engage Members of Parliament with International Trade and the WTO.
Each session included an open debate among participants in order to exchange views, best practices and criticalities experienced at a national level. 
The Conference also proposed a number of recommendations in terms of adaptation of national legislations, notably: The general level of trade and investment in the Mediterranean must be further stimulated, especially with regards to intra-regional trade (south-south); SMEs are crucial for the Mediterranean economy in terms of job creation, GDP and purchasing power; the exchange of best practices, lessons learned and success stories is an effective means to facilitate trade and investments, as well as to promote economic integration; the WTO agreement is a useful instrument to facilitate trade; major improvements are needed with regards to legislation on data protection; in terms of political stability and economic growth, the water crisis in Gaza is an absolute priority.
Finally PAM committed to continue working with member parliaments and with other international parliaments, and the relevant international and financial institutions, and announced that a similar joint meeting, organized in cooperation with WTO and the UN, will be dedicated to the Western Balkans next year.//
issued on 27.10.2017
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