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Speeches
Remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah II
At the East Asia Economic Summit
Singapore City, Singapore
13 October 2003

Professor Schwab,
Distinguished Members and Guests,

Thank you for your warm welcome. I am delighted to be here in Singapore. Allow me to thank you, and all Singaporeans, for your generous welcome and hospitality. Your country has made itself a world standard for responsibility, excellence and success. All who are here for this summit will be listening and learning.

It is an honour to have the chance to participate in this very important event. Economic dynamism is critical for the future of East Asia. But it is just as urgent for the world as a whole. And we are looking to your leadership and insights.

We know that even in adversity, even in economic crisis, the East Asia economies have been resilient. Today, many of your nations lead the world in measures of economic vitality. In the World Economic Forum's own ratings of growth competitiveness, Taiwan ranks third, Singapore ranks fourth. South Korea ranks in the top ten macroeconomic environments worldwide.

Asia's growth economies began with an investment in human capital: education, health and more. Innovation put new knowledge to work for the economy. Excellence was rewarded. And successful countries learned that long-term reform could not be achieved without recognising the human rights and aspirations of their people.

The message is clear: Dynamism is the means to economic success, not its end. Dynamism is the very engine that drives economies forward. And like a locomotive engine, if it is to pull all society, it must be linked to every car in the train.

Here at this summit, you are renewing this commitment to dynamism. And I am here to tell you that we in Jordan and the Arab world are with you. Our young and aspiring people are keen to participate in the best of the 21st Century. We know this requires the courage to change; the courage to seek new partnerships, new beginnings, and new ways of thinking. The ability to see the path ahead, starts with understanding where we are. Only in this way can we approach the issues and concerns that are shaping our global system.

Certainly, this is a critical moment in world history. The actions we take, the policies we make, the decisions we reach, all will have far-reaching impact on the future. It is a future shared by all of us, rich and poor, East and West, North and South. For we are inseparably linked: in trade, finance and migration; in environment, disease, and conflict; and yes, in our common fight against terrorism. Together, we will forge new dynamism, peace and prosperity. Or together, we will suffer the consequences of global division and despair.

I say division, because, my friends, today – despite our links – our world remains all too separated. Too few control too much, and too many have too little to hope for. World Bank President Jim Wolfensohn has described our situation as being “out of balance.” And he is right. In a world of six billion people, one billion own 80 per cent of global GDP. At the other extreme, one billion struggle to survive on less than a dollar a day.

These and other global disparities have driven world action … and sometimes, brought action to a halt. On the positive side, we've seen the Millennium Development Goals, and the declarations of Monterrey and Johannesburg. But global disparities were also reflected in the breakdown of last month's WTO talks. Cancun was a reality check: The haves and the have-nots do not inhabit separate planets. Policies in one country can touch, do touch, the daily lives of people across the world.

This is why we need a dynamic new partnership for development, one that reflects the integration and participation of all the world's economies. Developed and developing countries alike recognise that cooperation is the route to the future. Indeed, this was one of the messages from Bali last week. What is needed now is global resolve … to heal old divisions and build partnerships for change. Lasting peace and sustainable development will only come when we achieve greater cooperation, and a greater balance between rich and poor. That means a new and deep resolve to address the crises of trust and justice that are undermining our world.

My friends,

Today, we meet in the shadow of conflict and loss that has gripped many parts of the world … and particularly mine. The Arab-Israeli conflict has been a central cause of instability and a recruiting ground for extremism and global terror. It has caused untold suffering and injustice.

I say: enough. And I am not alone. Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and non-Arabs, East and West, yearn for an end to this destructive conflict. It is time for us to create a new mindset and a real peace.

Four months ago, in Aqaba, the Israelis and Palestinians reaffirmed their sincere intent to pursue the road to peace. That roadmap was sanctioned by the international community, by all Arab states, and by all those who believe in humanity. The roadmap can deliver a peace that works; a peace that lasts. After the speeches, of course, comes the work. Real peace demands real trust, and that won't come through distant, shapeless goals. There must be prompt, visible action – dynamic peacemaking for a dynamic peace. That means placing the roadmap on an irreversible course – to Palestinian statehood, Israeli security, and prosperity for all in the Middle East. As we do so, we must resist those who would turn us back. Faced with a renewed cycle of violence and terror, we must reinforce our collective commitment to achieve peace and the hope it can provide.

And hope is desperately needed … not only by those who are suffering the violence, but by all who suffer its side effects. The Arab-Israeli conflict has been my region's major obstacle to development and reform. By all rights, the Middle East should be thriving. Ours is a dynamic world of youth, where sixty percent of the people are under the age of 25. We have a rich heritage of scholarship, culture and faith. We have great economic potential. Our region as a whole holds more than 65 per cent of the world's proven oil reserves and 36 per cent of gas reserves. Arab countries that do not have these natural resources have a tremendous talent pool of human capability and determination.

Yet the plain fact is, economic development has not measured up to the promise. All 22 Arab states combined have a GDP less than that of Spain. Economic growth remains below potential. Our economies must grow at least five per cent a year if they are to absorb the unemployed and provide new jobs for the millions of youth entering the labour pool each year. Structural and far-reaching economic, social and political reforms are urgently needed.

In Jordan, we have not waited for regional peace to begin our own future. We are engaged in a dynamic process of domestic reform … a process that began some years ago, and is now accelerating. Our basic aim is an inclusive, democratic civil society, one that can provide hope and promise for our youth, our future.

Last June, the World Economic Forum came to Jordan for an extraordinary annual meeting. Participants had the chance to see a country in transition. They met with Jordanian students, community leaders, and executives from our business and financial sectors. They had a chance to examine our initiatives in e-learning, intellectual property rights, pharmaceuticals, services, and more.

This is today's Jordan. A country on a path to the future, and in touch with its past. A country that has taken risks for peace, in our region and around the world. A country that has spoken out, boldly, in the name of tolerance, justice, and global cooperation.

We will continue our commitment to global dialogue. We have agreed with Professor Schwab to hold another meeting on the shores of the Dead Sea next May. I invite you all to join us, to see the Jordan that I describe.

My friends,

Science tells us that in our solar system, every planet's orbit is shaped by the forces and paths of other planets. No matter how distant, no matter how large or small, no planet operates as if it is alone. The solar system is a dynamic whole, in which each body plays a part.

Here on Earth, the path of each nation is also shaped by others ... small as well as large … across our borders or across the world. Together we form a dynamic global system. Together, our paths will trace out our future, a future that is shared by all.

What kind of future will it be? Working together, the choice is ours to make. And as global leaders meeting here, at a pivotal point, at a pivotal time, you will play a significant part. To find a path back to dynamism here in Asia. To create a model for other regions, which need to address reform, growth and development. To promote the cooperation that must replace conflict; the dialogue that must replace division. And through all this, to confront the global imbalances that are undermining earth's energy and future. Your new thinking, your initiative and vision, can set a new path: to a world of freedom and openness; a global human community based on equity, justice, and dialogue. Together, let us create a dynamic future, one that fulfils the promise of our people and our time.

Thank you very much.