The fourth summit of the Arab-South American Countries (ASPA) that commenced on Tuesday in Riyadh concluded with hopes of boosting social, political and economic ties between the two regions.
The summit chaired by Saudi king Salman took place at King Abdulaziz International Conference Center and was attended by the top officials of the Middle East and South American countries. The heads of state from the 22 Middle East countries including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen and 12 Latin American countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guiana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay, Venezuela and Suriname, the continent’s smallest country along with those from the GCC countries including Saudi Arabia attended the meetings. The top leaders assembled on the public space that is set to emerge as a new platform for the developed oil-rich Arab countries as well as the developing countries growing into new economic powers. The meetings that began in 2005 in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia completes a decade this year. Besides improving the cooperation in the field of trade and economy, it has also evolved into joined perspective of a harmonious consensus in political matters in both the continents. For Latin American countries that are home to 25 lakh immigrants from Arab countries, this cooperation would help in their economic and political survival. On the other hand, the Arab countries plagued by the issues in West Asia, are relieved due to the presence of the global association. While inaugurating the summit, the Saudi King pointed out that the association would be supporting the Arab countries taking into consideration their sentiments in matters like the Palestine issue in which the world powers have so far been reluctant and also undermined the issue at the time of crossroads. The new ally decided to recognize the Palestine state and to stand with the Arab league against Israeli invasion. The world powers were annoyed at the South American countries for taking a strong stand that Israel should maintain the pre 1967 boundary status quo and that the brutal attacks and sanctions on Gaza were unacceptable.
In the backdrop of the changing power equations of the Arab countries, the decision to lift double taxation, establish new business councils, form independent trade agreements and also to protect and encourage the investments between the countries of the two regions, deserves special attention. The trade between the two regions has reached 33 billion compared to just 8 per cent a decade ago. The public platform has started over 50 endeavors in the diplomatic and economic sectors. As part of bringing in foreign investments into the country, Saudi Arabia has decided to open trade relations with the Latin American nations via sea. Agreements were formed to strengthen the cooperation in the field of air force and navy. Riyadh has also urged for an independent army for the Arab countries and also to denounce linking terrorism to any religion, culture or race. Given the deterioration of trust between the Arab countries in the process of growing ties with the West, attempts from both the sides to truck with new powers are also evident. The move of aiming to be powerful force relying on the natural and human resources and not dancing to the tunes of the world powers should be seen optimistically. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the association of the world nations, largely one of harmony, integration and achievement, ‘sends a powerful message at a time when the world is wrestling with the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War’. The world would be drastically transformed if this alliance succeeds in growing beyond the boundaries and achieve its goal.