Palestinian economic plan taking shape

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WASHINGTON (AFP) – Behind the scenes, a team of international experts have for months been working on a plan to boost the stagnant Palestinian economy, set to be launched if peace talks with the Israelis resume.

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled the broad contours of the scheme to attract some $4 billion in private-sector investment over the next three years at a World Economic Forum in Jordan in late May.

 

But decades of frustrations and disappointments mean the concrete details are being kept under wraps until there is an agreement to resume the talks, stalled since September 2010.

 

The hope is that, hand in hand with movement on the political front, the scheme could sew tangible economic benefits on the ground to alleviate dire unemployment and poverty for the Palestinians.

 

Kerry said business experts had been working to make the project “real, tangible and shovel-ready,” adding an initial analysis had predicted “stunning” results.

 

These included boosting the Palestinian GDP by as much as 50 percent over three years and cutting unemployment from 21 percent to eight percent.

 

But similarly ambitious US-led plans by past administrations have faltered, and a blanket of secrecy has been thrown up as Quartet special envoy Tony Blair and his team hammer out the details with the aid of international experts.

 

Critics say the vague details may signal a lack of substance. But others believe the need for secrecy is in part due to concerns on the Palestini182697_92035916

2013-07-11

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