The Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce organized a virtual seminar that dealt with the economic difficulties facing the world in light of the spread of the new Coronavirus, the untiring medical efforts made to find a cure for it, and the challenges facing economic relations and trade between Arab and European countries in the time of Corona.
The webinar was attended by high-level Arab and European personalities in the medical and economic fields, who are Professor Josef Penninger, discoverer of the treatment of SARS, who is currently developing with his team a treatment for Coronavirus, and Senator Richard Schenz, President of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce and Vice-President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, and Dr. Christoph Leitl, President of the EuroChambers, Dr. Khaled Hanafy, Secretary-General of the Union of Arab Chambers, and Dr. Basil Al-Khatib, Representative of the Director of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
The Austrian scientist Josef Penninger, who along with his team of researchers and doctors in Canada and Austria, affirmed the dedication of the world as a treatment to the Coronavirus before the end of the year, the necessity of not underestimating a disease that spread quickly among humans, transmitted from the animal, indicating that many disease cases have suffered a relapse after it recovered, which shows the mutation of the virus.
Penninger pointed out the importance of concerted international efforts in the field of scientific research, and work to raise the levels of medical research, because what the world is currently witnessing will not end with the end of Corona; Where other viruses can appear, which requires serious medical scientific armament, through which the world can face any similar future challenges.
Penninger expressed his hope that he and his team will be able to provide adequate treatment for the Corona virus before the end of this year, stressing that a great stride has already been made towards achieving this goal.
For his part, President of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Senator Dr. Richard Schenz praised the precautionary measures taken by the State of Austria at an early date, which contributed to curbing the rapid spread of the disease among citizens and reducing deaths and the number of cases.
Schenz also mentioned the efforts made by the government, represented in huge packages for economic recovery and avoiding economic and social collapses as a result of the pandemic. Thousands of companies of various types benefited from these economic measures, and thousands of workers and employees in all sectors of the state.
Schenz explained that among the measures taken by Austria to support the economy, pumping billions as direct support to companies, whether with direct financial assistance or tax and insurance facilities, as well as facilities in granting loans and easing their repayment. The government also eased the burdens on companies and economic institutions through a system of reducing working hours for workers and employees, while bearing the payment of up to 90% of the regular income of employees before the pandemic, which was a record reduction in the burdens that employers would have incurred.
Regarding the negative effects of the Corona pandemic on the global economy, the President of the EuroChamber, Dr. Christophe Leitl emphasized that the services sector has been completely paralyzed in all countries of the world, because of the countries’ efforts to close their borders and stop the activities of restaurants and hotels and the tourist flow reaching zero.
Leitl, whose institution advises about 20 million European companies, expressed his appreciation for the precautionary measures taken by the countries of the world, and they are still in effect for the most part with varying degrees of easing procedures from one country to another, but he indicated that the global trade movement needs freedom, and requires removing obstacles to ensure openness and restore global markets to their health.
Leitl praised the Arab-European economic relations, considering that the Arab countries are a direct neighbor to the European Union, and strengthening the bonds of cooperation between them is beneficial to all parties; especially in light of the challenges facing the global economy. On the other hand, Leitl pointed out that the pandemic has cast a shadow over the European economy. Where about 140 million workers and employees were affected by the measures that pervaded the European Union, but at the same time, the recommendations submitted by the EuroChambers to the Austrian government contributed to alleviating the effects of the crisis on the Austrian economic sector.
The Secretary General of the Union of Arab Chambers, Dr. Khaled Hanafy, discussed the effects that the Corona pandemic has had on Arab countries, noting the variation in the treatment of Arab countries with the pandemic, each according to its internal circumstances. Hanafy stressed that the newly created Coronavirus was and still a great challenge for Arab economies, like the rest of the world, and that the unprecedented decline in global oil prices has increased, which has led to a number of Arab countries resorting to urgent measures to reduce the negative effects of the crisis, and at the same time providing various facilities to keep the economy moving and protect it from any sudden fluctuations.
Hanafy pointed out that the Corona pandemic prompted changes to the global supply chain, and the Arab countries were not in isolation from this development. In this regard, he stressed that the strategic position of Arab countries on the global map makes it a focal point between Europe, Africa and Asia, calling on European countries to open up more towards the Arab region to benefit from this advantage, in addition to the experience that Arab countries enjoy in dealing with its African and Asian environment.
In turn, the representative of the Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the regional director of the Arab region of the organization, Dr. Basil Al-Khatib, pointed out that the Corona pandemic showed the countries of the world depend on each other to fill their shortcomings, pointing at the same time that the global crisis left the pandemic which came between the years 2020 and 2030, which is the period when the United Nations and the countries of the world were planning to hold the act and achievement in the field of sustainable development globally, but the spread of the disease imposed a reconsideration of the order of priorities, so that the crisis could be addressed in all its health, social and economic aspects .
Al-Khatib stressed that all United Nations organizations, including UNIDO, are working hard to help member states overcome the effects of the Corona pandemic, making sure that this crisis is not only a health crisis, but also its effects to include social and economic consequences.
For his part, the Secretary-General of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Eng. Mouddar Khouja, pointed out that the term “national security” is witnessing in light of the Corona pandemic a change in its definition and development of its concept; As armament and military affairs are no longer the only ones controlling the idea of a nation's national security, rather a fundamental arrangement has occurred in national security priorities with which medical scientific research has risen to the forefront; Where the attention of the whole world is directed towards the white coats, hoping for an imminent exit from the Corona tunnel, to which the world has entered, ignorant of the date of its departure.
Khouja considered that medical supplies and medical devices became the favor when talking about national security. Pointing out that confronting a hidden and deadly enemy calls for armaments with knowledge, while resorting to arms and armaments is at the bottom of the list of global priorities.
Khouja affirmed the key words spoken by the conference speakers, namely openness, trust, hope and solidarity between governments, societies and peoples. So that the world can overcome the Corona crisis.
The conference witnessed discussion and exchange of ideas on the global situation under Corona; Where Dr. Richard Schenz mentioned that about 40% of Austrian companies may falter due to the pandemic, which is the percentage that the government economic recovery packages try to reduce and mitigate the negative effects caused by the failure of these companies.
On the liquidity of cooperation between Arab and European countries, Dr. Khaled Hanafy stressed the need for openness from the European side, while Dr. Christophe Leitl pointed out that taking appropriate steps at the appropriate time may be of great importance.
Regarding the situations in Lebanon and Iraq in the shadow of the Corona pandemic, Dr. Basil Al-Khatib said that what Lebanon is experiencing is difficult financial conditions before the pandemic poses a great challenge in the presence of the Corona crisis as well, while the Lebanese government seeks to reduce the burdens on the economy and provide liquidity required for continued movement within the community.
Dr. Khaled Hanafy said that the reconstruction operations in Iraq were affected negatively due to the conditions resulting from the Corona pandemic and the significant decline in oil prices, indicating at the same time that reconstruction is still a priority for Iraq, however.
In this regard, Engineer Mouddar Khouja pointed out that the Iraqi government, led by Mustafa Al-Kazemi, received the approval of Parliament, to be the first government to assign a number of sovereign portfolios in a short time, which indicates the government's determination to achieve achievements in the next stage.
Source (Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Edited)