Marshall Stocker: “USA’s unconditional support to Israel will not affect American investments in Yemen” [Archives:2007/1012/Front Page]
Marshall Stocker is the vice president of World Freedom Select Center. He is an international investor who attended the investment conference in Aden at the beginning of this month. He sees economic reform and fighting corruption as a must in order to encourage Yemeni economy. And that the missing element is a stable economic policy supported by Yemeni businessmen and protected by the government. Abdulwahid Abdullah interviewed him for the Yemen Times.
Is your visit to Yemen planned and organized with the U.S Authority within the area?
Our visit was a private sector initiative. Our group, The Center for Global Strategies is not a government organization. We did receive the full cooperation of the US Embassy in Sana'a. We paid our travel expenses personally.
What is your vision about future of Yemen in light of the recent events especially the donor's conference held in London?
Seven years into the 21st century and the tremendous economic assets of Yemen remain woefully under-utilized. With a friendly citizenry, a desirable geographic location, a natural deep-harbor port, an accommodating climate, low-cost labor, and stable political environment, Yemen is an excellent candidate to benefit from an increasingly globalized world economy. Yet, Yemen continues to be beset with low economic growth, socio-economic distress, security problems, and corruption.
The missing ingredient?
A firm policy of economic freedom supported by the business community and defended by the government. Around $4.7 billion committed at the Donors Conference stands prepared to fund strategic infrastructure development and reforms that will best be complimented by new, free-market economic policies. By endeavoring to become the most free-market country in the region, Yemen will become the jewel of the Arab world and achieve its former status as a center of global commerce.
Talking free markets, what do you think of Aden's free zone?
The harbour is a critical component of Yemen's future. Most important are broad economic reforms that bring free-markets to Yemen. Only once these reforms have been made, will investors and business begin to invest in and use the Aden port.
Would the U.S.A.'s absolute support to Israel affect future investment in Yemen?
The U.S.-Israel relationship has NO effect on my future investments.
Do you think the existing relative investment laws are enough to attract investors compared with the other countries specially ECC?
No. Again, economic policy reforms are needed. These reforms will firmly protect private property, dramatically reduce government corruption, lower taxes, and cut burdensome regulations.
Will the existing situation in east Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia) effect the attitude of investing in Yemen?
What are in your opinion is the promised future sectors in Yemen?
I must study Yemen more. But if Yemen reforms its economic policies, investors will figure out which sectors are best without any direction from a government bureaucrat.
Compared with Estonia what u can say about Yemen?
Estonia once had the same low level of economic freedom that Yemen has today. In less than 10 years, Estonia has become a very economically free country and the results are tremendous.
Therefore, if Yemen implements the same reforms of Estonia, Yemen can expect the same positive experience that Estonia had. Read on:
After completing comprehensive economic reforms that included privatization of state owned enterprises, development of capital markets, price liberalization, balancing of the fiscal budget and implementation of the flat-tax, Estonia is now reaping the reward of improved socio-economic well-being. This reform program raised Estonia from 82nd to the 13th most free-market economy in the world in ten years, an astonishingly short period (1995 to 2004).
Inflation has dropped from nearly 1000% in 1992 to 4% in 2005. Though unemployment initially increased as a result of shrinking government bureaucracy, its year 2000 peak of 13.6% is steadily declining to less than 10% today. Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) is growing more than 9% percent per year. If Estonia's GDP continues to grow 6% faster than the U.S.'s, Estonia's per capita GDP will equal that of the U.S.'s in the year 2022, the approximate year today's Estonian children will finish their university studies.