On the 1st and 2nd of October 2012, my country will have the honor of welcoming in Lima the Heads of State and Government of the Arab and South American countries, along with numerous business leaders from both regions, for the III ASPA Summit.
In a moment of economic uncertainty in other parts of the world, these regions bring together an enormous potential - yet greatly unexplored - for economic exchange and cooperation.
For sure, each region faces its own daring challenges. In South America, the combination of a stable and expansionary macroeconomic environment, along with an abundance of natural resources, has created an attractive setting for international investors. At the same time, our countries still confront the need to transform their high growth rates of recent years into sustainable development and social inclusion.
For its part, the Arab region traverses a historic period of social and political transformation, along with an evolution and diversification of its economic structures. The events of the last year and a half have propelled an arduous process of institutional re-building in several Arab nations while, of course, the international community awaits impatiently a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict.
Globalization has brought our societies closer. Popular culture, sport and music are reinvigorating today the pluri-centennial common heritage of our past. As we know, such heritage is entrenched in the Arab presence in the Iberian Peninsula, which has strongly marked our sensibilities, language, cuisine and arts. Such ties have been strengthened through the migration of Arabs to South America in the XIX and XX centuries and, in recent decades, through the growing number of South Americans who establish themselves, particularly in the dynamic economies of the Gulf, to explore new work and business prospects.
Today, our young generations are more eager than ever to learn each other’s languages and traditions and to build friendships through travel and social media. Undoubtedly, they share more openness to the world than their elders; they also perceive more similarities between their own pursuits of personal expression and happiness.
In this context, the III ASPA Summit is an opportunity for the Arab and South American nations to show to the world a common ambition: to look beyond the current domestic challenges and to work together to shape the new global world, building a relationship of strong dialogue, trade, investment, cooperation and culture between our peoples.
Following the two previous ASPA Summits - the first held in Brasilia in 2005 and the second in Doha in 2009 -, the event to take place in Peru next week will mark a new level of proximity between the two regions. The outcome document, the Declaration of Lima, will outline our converging values: the search for peace, prosperity and social justice; the respect for international law and multilateralism; the promotion of disarmament and non-proliferation; the need for an equitable, open and stable global market; the imperative of sustainable development.
Assuredly, the Summit will also yield common action on issues of immediate concern: exchange of best practices on governance; support for the stabilization of conflict situations; economic coordination to face the current global crisis; technical cooperation on energy and water management; among others.
Concurrently, along with the Heads of State Summit, the ASPA CEO Summit will gather in Lima leading business players of both regions for networking opportunities to facilitate fresh trade and investment deals.
An important Emirati Government and business delegation is warmly expected in Lima to illustrate, in our part of the world, the extraordinary success of the economic and social model of the UAE. Its participation will also consolidate the rapidly growing bilateral ties with Peru, which opened a Consulate General and Trade Office in Dubai in 2011 and which is already the second major destination of Emirati investments in South America.
Peru, the host country and the current President of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), has fixed its goal for the Summit very clearly: to place in the international scene the new, singular voice of two regions longtime detached but now ready to converge.
It is indeed time for Arabs and South Americans to bring closer their vibrant cultures and emerging economies.
Rafael Roncaglioglo is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru