London - Efforts made by Morocco to revive the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) and consolidate regional integration were highlighted by the Oxford Business Group, a London-based think-tank group in a recent study.
London – Efforts made by Morocco to revive the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) and consolidate regional integration were highlighted by the Oxford Business Group, a London-based think-tank group in a recent study.
The economic intelligence consultancy office stresses that the visit of King Mohammed VI to Tunisia was an opportunity for the two countries to endeavor to give a new impulse to this grouping which held its last summit in 1994.
It also recalls how the King in his address to the Tunisian national constituent assembly called Maghreb countries to “overcome the artificial hurdles and obstacles hindering the effective launching of our Union in an environment characterized by trust, dialogue, good neighborliness and mutual respect for our national specific features.”
The Moroccan monarch also insisted on the need to move forward to establish a free-trade agreement in the Maghreb in order to facilitate trade and create more economic opportunities, the study notes.
The study also points out that intra-regional growth perspectives of the five UMA countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia) are tremendous as the region boasts important natural resources, vast gas and oil reserves as well as a vibrant manufacturing sector and competitive services.
It adds that trade between the five countries remains below the existing potentials, quoting figures of the World Bank which said that the non-Maghreb entails a loss of between 2 and 3 points of the GDP every year.
According to the study, the volume of exported goods in the Maghreb progressed from 1.5 billion dollars in 2001 to 7.6 billion dollars in 2011, but their share of the region’s overall exports, worth 170.6 billion Dollars, is tiny.
Inter-maghreban exchanges represented 3pc of the five countries’ annual trade in 2008, compared to the European Union (63.3pc) and the Association of South-East Asian countries (24.6pc).
The Oxford Business Group estimate that there is a long way to go before reaching regional integration but pending the settlement of some thorny issues, the dynamism brought by Moroccan-Tunisian cooperation could be a good inspiration for strong and efficient Maghreban integration.