(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia and the UAE captured 46 percent of the foreign direct investments (FDIs) flowing into the Arab countries in 2012, an Arab investment forum was told in Kuwait.
Addressing the forum, Kuwait Minister of Commerce and Industry Anas Khalid Al-Salih said localization of Arab investments and attraction of foreign investments are not merely the responsibility of investment promotion bodies but other relevant parties ought to be involved, notably those concerned with planning, legislations, infrastructure and utilities.
He said Kuwait investments registered continued growth in the Arab countries which earned it to occupy the first rank in the list of the Arab world's largest exporters of inter-Arab investments.
Kuwait also contributed to set up and host a cluster of Arab economic organizations such as the Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development (AFESD), the Arab Planning Institute (API), the Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), and the Arab Towns Organization (ATO), he said.
It also supported all of their activities to enhance economic cooperation, encourage investments, planning and development in these countries, he added.
AFESD Board Chairman Abdulatif Al-Hamad admitted that Arab economies did not succeed to become an important investment attraction destination for FDIs where Arabs' share did not exceed 5 percent to the global investment inflows in the last ten years with the exception of two countries - Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The two countries held 46 percent of the overall FDIs in Arab countries in 2012, which were estimated at 48 billion (SR180 billion), he said.
He added that all countries, oil and nonoil, are pressingly in need of foreign investments that will allow them to import and localize new technologies, integrate into global markets and create 50 million jobs over the next 20 years. The Arab countries have to face poor natural resources, notably water, which has become insufficient for use in agriculture, industry and domestic consumption. They will, further, face challenges in oil and gas resources whose rate of consumption is poised to reach 60 percent of their production in years to come, he said.
Meanwhile, DHAMAN General Director Fahad Rashid Al-Ibrahim said the investment environment in the region witnessed improvement in the second half of the decade of the current century thanks to reforms introduced by the respective governments with regards to legislations, infrastructure and activation of the private sector's role.
Accordingly, the volume of FDIs flowing into the region jumped to 436 billion in the period 2005-2010 compared to 69 billion in 1999-2004 period, he said.
On the other hand, inter-Arab investments grew to nearly 145 billion in the period 2005-2010 compared to 20 billion in 1999-2004, he said.
However, the recent developments in the region cut the FDIs to 90 billion in the period 2011-212 compared to 141 billion in 2009-2010, or a decrease of 57 percent, he pointed out.