The Third Session of the Russian Arab Business Council (RABC)

On February 7, 2055 a third RABC session took place in Beirut within the framework of a visit of the delegation of the RF Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by RF CCI President Evgeni Primakov to Lebanon.

Speaking at the opening of the session E.Primakov greeted its participants expressing gratitude for hospitality accorded to the delegation and creating favourable conditions for its activities. In his speech he noted, “Russia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry has set up a system of Business Councils that are to shoulder significant responsibility for the development of trade and economic relations with other countries.”

The RABC is one of the leaders among such Councils, and this status has been predetermined by a number of reasons.

  • The RABC acts on a vast territory from the Atlantic to the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates.
  • Russia is especially interested in developing its economic ties with the Arab world primarily due to the fact that our economies are complementary. Regardless of some losses of the 1990s, Russia has not lost its scientific potential. Our industry as developing fairly well, with growth rates are ranked among the world’s highest, up to 7% annually. We have not lost our leading positions in such areas as cosmonautics, power production and aircraft manufacturing. Russia steadily holds the world’s leading positions in terms of manufacturing of a number of exportable conventional arms. In turn, Arab nations are developing dynamically and they have something to offer Russia.
  • Good traditions worked out by history of our relations undoubtedly do much good to our economic cooperation. Many Arab countries have power stations, electricity transmission lines, irrigational edifices, plants and railroads built by our specialists.
  • Picking up activities of Russia’s cooperation with Arab nations has a geopolitical significance. It is no secret that there are forces that - as an answer to the upsurge of international terrorism - would favour dividing the world this time not by the ideological principle but rather on the principle of differences of civilizations and their religions.

Russia is a reliable partner of those who share a position that excludes unilateral measures that circumvent the UN Security Council, measures of using force against any nation. We and Arab nations share completely or closely the view on burning issues, one being the essentiality of a handover of the totality of authority in Iraq to Iraqis themselves with an eye at retaining Iraqi territorial integrity and stabilizing the situation in that martyr nation. The other one is the need for a just settlement of the Middle East conflict on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions and the Madrid formula “Territories for peace.” Russia’s economic rapprochement with the Arab world is also a call to bring about politically successful solution to all these vital problems.

Successful summits Russian leaders have held with their counterparts from many Arab nations are evidence of importance of our rapprochement with the Arab world. And it gives us satisfaction to note that both Russian and Arab leaders striving to deepen our relations attribute especial attention to links between business communities.

In his speech E. Primakov also noted that certain results have already been achieved. During RABC sessions in Cairo and Moscow in 2004 final documents were signed that define the RABC goals and directions of activity. A number of business forums were held, two Russian exhibitions in Amman and Moscow in 2004. Steps were made to solve the problems of the lack of business information that prevented expansion of trade and investment exchange between Russia and Arab nations.

Setting up bilateral Business Councils should, according to E.Primakov needs to be mentioned specially. Acting now are Russian-Egyptian, Russian-Lebanese, Russian-Saudi and Russian-Syrian Business Councils. Work to establish a number of other councils is underway. A more active expanding process of establishing direct contacts between Russian and Arab entrepreneurial organisations is taking place within the framework of the mentioned and other RABC events.

RF CCI President also mentioned that “one of the directions of efforts served the idea of raising the level of trade relations between Russia and Arab nations, and increasing their trade turnover, whose potential is great and not fully tapped.”

E.Primakov stressed that President Vladimir Putin has called on Russian businessmen to raise the level of Russian-Arab cooperation in the trade and economic area as soon as possible in order to make it correspond to the favourable social and political climate in the sphere of our inter-state and social and political relations. Coordinating its activities with state bodies, including Russian-Arab Commissions on trade and economic, and scientific and technological cooperation Russia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry would consistently aim at creation the most favoured nation regimes between Russian and Arab business circles. E.Primakov stressed the most promising character of business ties with Russian regions, too, with their great potential for productive interaction with would-be partners in Arab countries.

During the delegation’s sojourn in Beirut Evgeni Primakov was met by Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud.