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Trip of a Palestinian Economic Delegation to Berlin and Munich on Invitation of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

„We were welcomed with open arms and we achieved a lot” – this is how Bassem Khoury, President of the Palestinian Federation of Industries (PFI), summarized the Germany trip on invitation of the country office Ramallah of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. The trip was dedicated to a crucial area of activity of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung: supporting the Palestinian private sector in order to contribute to the progress of the social market economy.

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Participants on this program, which took place in the first week of September, were Bassem Khoury, Anan Anabtawi, the representative of the Delegate of the German Industry and Trade (DGIT) in Ramallah, Tareq Maayah, the representative of Siemens in Ramallah and other influential Palestinian businessmen. They are members of the European-Palestinian Business Council (EuPal), which has been created with the help of the DGIT and aims at improving the economic relations of the Palestinian Autonomous Territories and Europe and to support the development of the Palestinian Autonomous Territories.

Economic issues were the focus of most of the discussions with German politicians and economic experts.

The delegation met Prof. Dr. Heinrich von Pierer, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Siemens Corporation. Major subject of the discussion was a project about a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), whose goal it is to set up a training centre for mechatronics in the West Bank, that provides young Palestinians in an efficient and sustainable program with qualifications to improve their occupational chances and that are of high relevance for the Palestinian economy. Von Pierer showed his enthusiasm for the project and assured his support.

In a discussion with Peter Clever, Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Association of Employers’ Federations, possibilities of cooperation in the field of vocational training were discussed as well. In addition, Clever provided an overview over the problems of social security systems and the job market in Germany. Afterwards, the participants discussed details of German-Palestinian economic relations with representatives of the Federal Association of the German Wholesale and Foreign Trade.

At the Federal Association of German Banks the participants of the delegation met Prof. Dr. Manfred Weber, Chief Executive and Member of the Board of Directors. The participants were informed about methods and functioning of such a central association of private economy. They were impressed by the work of this association, whose main instrument is the provision of information.

“The economic presence of Germany in the Palestinian Autonomous Territories should be strengthened and the categorization as a zone of war is inhibiting the settling of foreign businesses”, the delegation remarked at the meeting with the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. There, as well as in a meeting with the DGIT in Berlin, trade restraints in the Palestinian Autonomous Territories were a major subject and the problem of the distortion of the amount of the trade volume was stressed. Concrete steps for the improvement of the framework conditions of mutual trade were agreed upon.

At the Ifo-Institute for Economic Research in Munich the participants obtained information about the economic situation in Germany and the impact of institutional frameworks for the economic development in a global setting.

In addition, the delegation held several political talks: With Eckart von Klaeden, MP and Foreign Policy Speaker of the CDU/CSU-Parliamentary Party in the German Parliament, the delegation discussed the possible composition of a new Palestinian government.

Dr. Christoph Heusgen, the Head of the Department of Foreign-, Security and Development Policy in the Office of the Chancellor, discussed with the participants the attitude of the government and particularly of the chancellor regarding the conflict in the Middle East. “This subject is on top of the list of priorities of the government”, Heusgen explained.

Joachim Hörster, MP and Chairman of the Group of Parliamentarians for Arab-Speaking States in the Middle East, showed some cautious optimism regarding a possible resuming of negotiatons between Israelis and Palestinians.

In an appointment with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there was an expression of hope for stabilization in the Palestinian Autonomous Territories and the conditions for a new step in the peace process will be created.

In the headquarter of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung the delegation met the Chairman of the foundation, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Vogel. He stressed the necessity to support rule of law, democracy and social market economy in the Palestinian Autonomous Territories – the central areas of activity of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

Christoph Kannengiesser, the Deputy Secretary General of the foundation, provided the delegations’ participants with important suggestions for the composition of an effective system of associations in the Palestinian Autonomous Territories.

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