Mr Prime Minister,


Ramallah, 27 May, 2012

Mr Prime Minister,

Mr Minister of National Economy,

Madam Mayor of Ramallah,

Mr Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry,

Ladies and gentlemen representatives of the business community,

I am very pleased and honoured to be here today in Ramallah on the occasion of the launching of a new project funded by France in support of the Palestinian private sector. The pleasure is even greater since it is the first opportunity for me to participate in a public event with you, Mr Minister, after your recent appointment at the Ministry of National Economy. I see it as a good sign for our collaboration and express again may sincere congratulations to you.

The Private Sector Development Cluster Project aims at strengthening the competitiveness of Palestinian businesses by developing clusters through the combination, in one single location, of companies, training centres and research units working together in the same sector of activity. The ambition of this approach, the cluster approach, is to develop further synergies and innovation, to improve the publicprivate dialogue and interaction, and to increase the companies’ market shares, both locally and abroad.

This new project carried out by the French Development Agency with a budget of 5 million Euros over 4 years is made of four main components:

- first, technical assistance to create and develop clusters ;

- second, co-financing of the projects through an office which will be located at the Palestinian Federation of Chambers of Commerce and

Industry ;

- third, support to the dialogues within the different sectors of activity, to the public-private relationship, to economic intelligence and to the regulatory adjustment process that will be conducted by the

Palestinian Ministry of Economy ;

- fourth and last but not least, a broad information campaign, that we are initiating today and which will cover all the governorates of the

West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip – I’ll be in

Gaza July in July for this purpose - , thanks to the network of the

Federation of the Palestinian Chambers of commerce and industry, in order to increase public awareness about the cluster approach.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As you know, supporting the private sector is a top priority of

France’s cooperation and intervention in Palestine as part of its overall political, financial and technical support to the Palestinian authority and people. Indeed, we are convinced that a dynamic and prosperous private sector is essential if we want to ensure sustainable development and consolidate the foundations of a viable Palestinian

State. A strong private sector is in the interest of the business community, which is already vibrant but which still has a great potential of development. It is also in the interest of the Palestinian

Authority and of the international community because a strong private sector is vital in order to reduce the reliance of the Palestinian economy on external donors.

France is supporting the Palestinian private sector through several projects, programmes and mechanisms. Allow me to mention a few of them. We have been financing, mainly through the French

Development Agency, many development projects in different sectors like microfinance, olive oil, IT, etc. More specifically, the Bethlehem

Multidisciplinary Industrial Park (BMIP), which aims at developing a

long term partnership between the French and the Palestinian private sectors, with the support of both the French Government and the

Palestinian Authority, is now on a promising track with the concretization of investments by international and local companies.

There is also the ARIZ guarantee scheme, which allows banks to finance more risky projects and new businesses: with the help of Bank of Palestine, projects for an amount of more than 2 million US dollars have benefited from this guarantee for the past two years, both in the

West Bank and in Gaza.

Last but not least, let me mention the 5 million Euros French grant that we have put in place in 2010 in partnership with several

Palestinian banks and which has already helped financed 8 projects for a total amount of 2.5 million Euros.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The key word, the essence of this cluster project is partnership : indeed, in order to accompany the stakeholders in this process, both the private and the public sectors must be strongly involved – and your presence today clearly shows that this dialogue is already a reality in Palestine.

The Ministry of National Economy, in partnership with the French

Association France Cluster which represents a hundred clusters in

France, will be instrumental in supporting cluster development through the enhancement of the business environment ; the role of the

Federation of Chambers of Commerce will be essential in providing the link with the private sector ; and of course the participation of private companies will be of utmost importance to guarantee the success of our project.

We are launching today a campaign that will cover the whole

Palestinian territory with the aim of convincing the private sector of the relevance of the cluster approach to tackle the difficult challenge of strengthening economic growth. I wish all the best to the Ministry

of Economy, to the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and

Industry and to France Cluster in this task, and to all the participants involved. I am looking forward to the first concrete and successful achievements of this very innovative project.

Thank you very much.