The Arab Economic and Social Council, an affiliate of the Cairo-based League of Arab States, today issued a communiqué following its 92nd session, which was chaired by Saudi Deputy Minister of Finance and National Economy Dr. Jubara Al-Sireisiri. The council made an appeal to those Arab countries who have not yet finalized measures regarding the implementation of the executive program of the proposed Arab duty-free zone to expedite these as soon as possible.
The communiqué called specifically on Algeria, Djibouti and the Federal Republic of the Comores to endorse the  agreement for facilitating and developing commercial exchange among Arab countries, and welcomed Mauritania as a signatory. The communiqué urged the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development to provide greater support to Arab countries to implementing the duty-free zone. The council plans to hold an economic seminar every February, which will focus on this issue, and also urged member states to include these in bilateral joint committee meetings.
The council passed a resolution to provide the necessary assistance to the Palestinian National Authority to enable it to participate in the duty-free zone and assist it in restoring its economic and commercial links with the Arab world in an effort to break the Israeli stranglehold and Israel's monopoly on Palestinian foreign trade.
The communiqué also urged Arab countries to participate in Hanover Expo 2000, to confirm the Arab presence and provide it with the necessary media coverage, and supported the call of the meeting of the Governors of Arab Central Banks held on September 6, 1998 in Amman, Jordan, to unify the Arab position on the matters to be presented and discussed on international and regional platforms, particularly at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The communiqué urged Arab financial institutions and chambers of commerce to exert greater efforts to brief their countrymen on taking litigation measures concerning investment disputes at the Arab level instead of resorting to high-cost international suit filing. The council also called for expediting measures to form the nucleus of an Arab investment data network.
The council also agreed to consider supporting the Federal Republic of the Comores and instructed the League of Arab States to send a delegation to the islands to survey the republic's needs.
Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Dr. Al-Sireisiri described it as positive, remarking that so far fourteen Arab states were committed to implementation of the executive program of the Arab duty-free zone. He confirmed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always sought to increase economic and commercial cooperation among Arab countries and to remove customs barriers from Arab commodities, and believes that the current extent of Arab trading, which is less than 10 percent, is not enough and does not meet the capabilities of the Arab economies.