News

Businessmen in Maghreb to meet more often, boost integration proces

Date: 08/12/2008
Source: Magharebia
At a meeting in Tunis on Friday, businessmen from Maghreb countries discussed ways to improve economic and trade integration in the region.

The building of the Arab Maghreb Union is necessary to preserve security and stability in the region, said Secretary-General Habib Ben Yahia at a recent conference in Tunis.

At a meeting in Tunis on Friday, businessmen from Maghreb countries discussed ways to improve economic and trade integration in the region.

The building of the Arab Maghreb Union is necessary to preserve security and stability in the region, said Secretary-General Habib Ben Yahia at a recent conference in Tunis.

Representatives of businessmen's and trade associations in Arab Maghreb Union countries decided recently to meet every three months to discuss co-ordination and consultation on Maghreb economic integration and the Maghreb market.

The decision came after businessmen met at a forum in Tunis on December 5th to examine the reality and horizons of the joint Maghreb market. It was held by the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Traditional Industries in cooperation with Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Habib Ben Yahia, Secretary-General of the Arab Maghreb Union, said during the meeting that the activation of the joint Maghreb market would be the best response to increasing international interest in the union, from regional blocs like the EU and international funds and organisations, such as the IMF and the World Bank.

"All these entities consider the building of the Maghreb union a necessary step for preserving security and stability in the region", Ben Yahia said, "and for opening the horizons of investments in a promising Maghreb market."

The Maghreb market currently serves about 85 million consumers; according to Ben Yahia the goal is to reach 120 million by 2020.

He also said Maghreb nations currently export more goods to the European Union than to other countries in the region, "in spite of the efforts made on the level of the Arab Maghreb Union or Maghreb bilateral relations." Trade amongst Maghreb neighbours constitutes just 3% of the total foreign trade of the countries, except for Tunisian-Libyan exchange, where figures show considerable growth.

Two weeks ago, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said in Tunis that the current financial crisis makes it more important than at any time in the past for Maghreb countries to accelerate their efforts towards integration.