IMF urges Maghreb states to integrate economies

Date: 18/11/2008
Source: Reuters
North African countries should overcome political obstacles and cooperate more closely to ensure their economies grow, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said on Tuesday.

There is huge potential for the five member countries of the Arab Maghreb Union to spur growth and trade for their more than 80 million people but lack of greater cooperation is stunting growth possibilities, he told a news conference in Tunisia.

"The IMF strongly backs Maghreb economic integration because we are convinced that such integration is a factor of significant development," Strauss-Kahn added.

He said the global financial crisis would cut growth in the region by between 1 and 1.5 percentage points, with OPEC members Algeria and Libya more affected by the crisis because their oil-dependent economies were more linked to the ailing global economy.

"The Maghreb region should feel the global crisis less than others. There should be quite significant growth in the region in 2009," he added. He did not give an absolute figure for the region's expected growth.

The AMU, comprising Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia, was set up in 1989 in the hope of creating a free trade zone and closer diplomatic cooperation....