Foreign Minister: Yemen needs wealth to qualify for GCC admission [Archives:2006/991/Local News]

October 19 2006

SANA'A, Oct. 17 ) Yemeni needs nearly US $40 billion to qualify for admission to the Gulf Cooperation Council, said Yemeni Foreign Minister Dr. Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi this week.

Al-Qirbi added that over the next 10 years the government is going to maintain and increase its contributions for the US $25 billion plan of qualifying its economy to join the bloc.

According to a recently designed strategy, the government is committed to contribute 65 percent of the US $25 billion plan, of which US $10 billion is expected to come from donors.

According to Al-Qirbi, Yemen's contribution to the plan during the coming five years will result in a budget deficit estimated of US $10 billion.

“This is the budget for a five-year plan (2007 to 2011), which includes areas that will qualify the country's economy for its merger with the GCC economy, and this plan is based on an ambitious program to achieve an economic growth of around 7.4 percent,” the Minister explained.

In November the UK will host a two-day conference that will bring together donors from the United States, Japan and the European Union. The conference is due to discuss mechanisms necessary for Yemen's economic development and fighting corruption. Also, it is expected to discuss the five-year plan that is going to be presented by the government of Yemen, as well as the mechanism designed to achieve economic growth.

“The conference is due to concentrate on two points: Yemen's ambitious economic growth and the fact it has just come out from one of the most successful democratic elections in the region,” an official stated.

The World Bank and the Yemeni government will co-chair the meetings which will be sponsored by the GCC countries.

Al-Qirbi mentioned that nuclear programs in Iran have no effect on Yemen joining the GCC. However, he expressed his desire for the Middle East, as a whole, be free of weapons of mass destruction, which meant Israel should also dismantle its nuclear weapons.

Within the 10-year plan for qualifying Yemen's economy for a complete merger with the GCC, Sana'a will also host an international conference in February to explore investment opportunities in the country. The minister said his government was focusing more on permanent investors rather than the “hit and run”” ones.

Yemen is also hoping to meet the conditions of the Millennium Challenge Account