Arab and African foreign ministers met in Kuwait on Sunday hoping to accelerate a strategy to bolster economic cooperation, investment and trade ahead of a summit this week.
The Third Africa Arab Summit on Tuesday and Wednesday will be the first meeting of its kind since 2010, when leaders met in Libya prior to the Arab Spring uprisings that toppled longstanding dictatorships there and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East.
The one-day meeting will adopt the agenda for the summit, where leaders are expected to approve a raft of new measures to upgrade economic ties between the two regions, including the oil-rich Gulf and sub-Saharan Africa.
“It is time to upgrade and activate the Arab-African joint work to serve the peoples in both regions,” Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah told the opening session.
Sheikh Khaled told reporters late Saturday the summit, held under the title “Partners in Development and Investment” is expected to discuss the possibility of creating an Arab-African common market.
Thirty-four heads of state, seven vice-presidents and three heads of government have confirmed their attendance at the summit, which will bring together 71 countries and organisations, according to organisers.
The second summit held in Libya three years ago adopted the Africa-Arab Partnership Strategy and the 2011-2016 Joint Action Plan to increase investment, trade and other joint economic projects between the two regions.
But implementation has been slow, in part because of the turmoil unleashed across the region by the 2011 Arab Spring, which saw the leaders of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen toppled by mass protests and the outbreak of a full-blown civil war in Syria.
The ministers will review a proposal to set up an Africa-Arab Joint Financial Mechanism to provide the necessary means for implementing projects and encouraging investment.
They will also discuss establishing the Africa-Arab Technical and Coordination Committee on Migration to help protect migrant workers.