‘World Becoming Inter-Dependent’

RIYADH: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is also the envoy of the Mideast Quartet, called on nations to enhance competitiveness to create better conditions for business growth across the world and to look to the East for successful business modules.

During his two-day stay in Riyadh, Blair discussed bilateral and regional issues with top Saudi officials including Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman. Blair, who wrapped up his visit to the Kingdom on Monday night, also held-wide ranging talks with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah on Sunday.

Speaking on the third day of the Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF) here on Monday, Blair said that “the world was becoming inter-dependent and the shift toward the East (Asia) has become inevitable.”

In his speech, Blair did not touch regional political issues, but singled out China and India when unveiling his own theory of competitiveness. He said that “the West should be aware that this is becoming a reality. We must look toward East. The world is changing.” Blair, who will take to the stand on Friday to give evidence in the Iraq Inquiry, said that this global forum in Riyadh could be made the strongest platform to discuss global economic conditions.

He urged participants to abandon old style ideas of more spending or regulations for the growth of world economy. “Our task today is not to fight old battles, but to show there is a third way — a way of marrying together an open, competitive and successful economy with a just, decent and humane society,” he added. The former British premier said that the forum would benefit one and all across the world. Blair noted the importance of the state and the governments dealing with its citizens as a partner.

He, while referring to the Western health system, said that sustainability comes from competitiveness. Blair pointed out that “the direct investments in the Kingdom, which exceeded $40 billion last year, compared to only $2 billion in 2004, which symbolizes the high rank of competitiveness.” He called on nations to map out future economic policies in line with the demands of different sectors. In this context, he cited the example of Singapore, which has emerged as the top-ranking nation in terms of competitiveness and business growth.

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