Twenty member companies of AFEI from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq attended the General Assembly and BOD meetings in Beirut, Lebanon.
The AFEI Chairman of the BOD emphasized in his opening speeches the need for such platform that allows members to get involved in tackling pressing issues which affect their businesses, societies, and countries. He also stressed the need to continue the quest towards making AFEI a corner stone in the process of developing the economic regulations which would guarantee harmonization with the global developments and provide guidance to the economic development initiatives.
Members discussed the negative impact of current challenges in their countries manifesting primarily in the issue of getting visas to enter the country where the meeting is conducted. They also praised the efforts of the AFEI members of each country in contacting their national institutions to resolve issues in this regard.
On the discussion table also was the fact that AFEI includes a variety of different industries. Attendees agreed to consider this feature as an opportunity and proceed to establish homogeneous associations under the AFEI umbrella that would tackle specialized common issues. A good example of such endeavor is the Arab Cable Manufacturers Association which was launched in 2005.
Some fundamental barriers to inter-Arab trade and investments were acknowledged. These are: the additional fees (beside tariff) on the products, prices of energy in some Arab countries, and dumping. As an association of employers, AFEI is requested to lobby for overcoming some obstacles. For that, the young industrialists' representative proposed to hire bright youth and offer mentorship and framework for them to come up with studies on how to tackle such common barriers as well as to change the mentality of "what AFEI offers to members" into "what members can offer to AFEI".
Alongside the meetings, AFEI organized a seminar with two experts. Mr. Patrick Daru, ILO delivered a presentation titled "Employers participation in skills development", and Mr. Philip Chite, ESCWA delivered a presentation titled "Current and prospected trade opportunities for the engineering industries in the Arab world".