President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva of the Federative Republic of Brazil:
Your Majesties, Presidents, and Excellencies, the heads and members of the delegations:
May God’s peace be upon you.
I have the honor on behalf of the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to convey his greetings and sincere wishes for the success of this summit. I also express in the name of the delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia great appreciation for the efforts of the Federative Republic of Brazil for preparing this summit, which will help us to reach the desired goals, notably enhancing cooperation among our countries to achieve our common interests and benefit our peoples.
The history of the relations between the Arab world and the Latin American countries goes back more than five hundred years, to when Arab sailors started to arrive in this part of the world. And throughout the 19th century, the wave of Arab migration to Latin America reached high levels, and, because of the Brazilian people’s acceptance of the newcomers, the Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian communities were able to integrate into Brazilian society, as they were into other Latin American societies.
Despite the intensive Arab presence in this part of the world, the volume of trade exchange and the amount of investment between the Arab countries and the Latin American countries are currently not up to the level of the available resources and capabilities on both sides. In 2004, the volume of trade exchange between Arab and South American countries was U.S. $10 billion, representing 1.13 percent of total external trade, and this is not in harmony with the ambitions of our peoples.
And we view the initiative of President Da Silva in holding this important conference as a good opportunity to correct this reality by determining the obstacles that prevent enhancement in different fields of cooperation and affirming the adoption of programs and plans to assure the elimination of these obstacles that face our cooperation.
We should also turn our attention to the need to encourage and support the flow of investments, exchange of experiences, and transfer of technology, as a response to the global changes that have taken place over the past years, which have led to the creation of a unified economic world which could pave the way for a large flow of cross-border investment.
In the world of globalization and information technology, we must take the opportunity to develop our joint economic capabilities. This means in the first place, the elimination of barriers that prevent the free flow of capital and investment projects. The most important of these is the taxation barrier that is imposed on foreign investors and the complicated administration procedures for their investments. In this context, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has issued new regulations for foreign investment, and provides a full list of assurances and incentives that enable the investor to keep pace with all modern changes and developments.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia desires, in line with joint international efforts, to meet developments in worldwide trade regulations by stressing the need for reform in the global financial system in order to support the efforts of the developing countries to achieve economic growth along with social equality.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also stresses that the reforms must include more adequate tools to prevent and manage financial crises and to give a greater role to the developing countries in the decision-making processes of the multinational financial organizations, without disrupting the interests of other countries.
With respect to the stability of the international energy markets, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has worked to ensure the consuming countries of the stability of oil supplies to meet the possibility of the shortages of those supplies regardless of any reason and in spite of its high cost. The crises that have taken place in the region have proved the credibility of the Kingdom's policy and its balanced approach in this field along with its concern that this finite commodity is dealt with in a manner suited to its importance. This will not come by imposing high taxes that negatively impact demand, nor by limiting investment in its development and improvement of its utilization.
The communiqué of the summit presents good ideas concerning ways of facing poverty and starvation, and the importance of tackling developmental and social issues. Despite the fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is itself a developing country with increasing financial needs, it nevertheless contributes in financing economic and social efforts in the poorer developing countries. In this regard, the Kingdom's total grant aid and soft development loans through bilateral and multilateral channels over the past three decades has reached about $83 billion, representing 4 percent of the annual average of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Kingdom in those years. This has exceeded the official goal of development aid as determined by the United Nations. Some 73 developing countries on different continents, including the South American continent, have benefited from this assistance.
I would like to point out here the cooperation in this field with South American countries. There has been active participation of companies and contractors from South America in implementing development projects on the continent of Africa financed by the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also took the initiative to contribute its full share in the fund initiative for reducing the debts of poor countries that are burdened by what they owe to the International Monetary Fund. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia released a number of poor countries from the debts due by them prior to the launch of the new international initiative in this respect.
We realize that this conference is concerned with economic aspects, but we feel that the desired economic development must be based on a stable situation. And this makes me move to mention a number of important political causes in our region which formed an obstacle to development and the matter will remain unresolved as long those issues are not dealt with. These issues are headed by the Palestinian cause which still awaits a just and lasting solution based on establishment of a Palestinian state, as has been stated in the Arab peace initiative and in the ‘roadmap’. If the peace process is to be moved forward, then Israel must fulfill its obligations according to the signed agreements and treaties and to respect the United Nations resolutions and the principle of land for peace.
The existence of equal opportunity in the participation in the political process for all Iraqi people is the committed assurance to protect the unity of Iraq, its independence and sovereignty. We hope that formation of the new Iraqi government will result in positive steps along the road to political process towards its desired goal; and acknowledge appreciation of the procedures that have been undertaken by the transitional Iraqi government. My country also supports the outcome of the Istanbul meeting for Iraq's neighboring countries which stressed the protection of the sovereignty and unity of Iraq, its land and its people, and the right and freedom of the Iraqi people for the self-determination and control over its natural resources.
Lebanon has witnessed a number of political developments of high importance, which we hope will result in a bright future that achieves for Lebanon what it looks for in terms of freedom, sovereignty and independence. On its part, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has exerted constant efforts to help the Lebanese people to reach their ambitions and at the same time keep the historical and distinguished relations that link Lebanon with its neighboring sister Syria.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has stressed at all times that terrorism is the most dangerous phenomenon that the international community has faced. And, in order to fight this phenomenon which does not have a religion or nation or nationality, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia took the initiative to call for an international conference on counter-terrorism which was held in Riyadh last February. A number of important recommendations were adopted by the concerned participating bodies, notably the proposal by Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to set up an international center for combating terrorism. The conference's final recommendations will, we hope, be adopted by the United Nations.
The culture, heritage and civilization of any society are the main keys towards understanding the nature of that society. The importance of culture is clear as it is an active element and a bridge for contacts among peoples. There is a need to enhance academic cooperation among educational foundations through scholarships in all sciences and knowledge, cooperation in the fields of training and technology, programs of culture exchange, and interaction among intellectuals with emphasis on the importance of protecting the cultural diversity of our countries in order to enhance understanding among us and to formulate joint interests that benefit our peoples.
In conclusion, I extend my thanks to you, Mr. President, and to the people and government of the Federative Republic of Brazil, for your hospitality and distinguished efforts which have contributed to the success of this summit.
May God’s peace be upon you.