Arab countries should integrate their economies and increase trade with one another, Qatar Finance, Economy & Trade Minister Sheikh Mohammad Bin Khalifah al-Thani said at a conference in Doha on 5 April.

The Arab-Israel peace, low oil prices and privatisation trends were affecting Arab countries. ‘It necessitates unification of Arab economies to build stronger negotiating power to get better deals from other economic blocs,’ he said.

Egypt’s Economy & Foreign Trade Minister Mahmoud Mohammad Mahmoud said Arab countries should cut their reliance on foreign markets. ‘It is unfortunate that the Arab world, with its vast natural resources…is 85 per cent dependent on industrial countries for its manufactured goods,’ he said. ‘What is needed is that we must integrate our economies and facilitate inter-state trade and movement of goods to counter challenges from other economic blocs.’