The international economic crisis is so universal that it feeds a debate that is not less global. Wednesday April 14, it was the turn of the International Studies Association (AEI) to address the issue at a seminar attended by a galaxy of former ambassadors of Tunisia alongside with a panel consisting of Finance Minister Mohamed Rachid Kechiche, AMU Secretary General Habib Ben Yahia and Sid Ahmed Ghozali, former Algerian Prime Minister, the Dean of Tunisian Ambassadors Tunisian Rachid Driss acting as moderator.
It was stated unanimously that the crisis is worse than anyone could have foreseen and, moreover, it affects indistinctly all economies in the world . The Maghreb countries, economically linked to those of the European Union could not be exempt, even if the impact they undergo is more bearable. Than, elsewhere But no one among the many participants in the debate has ventured to predict a deadline or, to put it more bluntly, a prospect for the end of the tunnel
Habib Ben Yahia underlined that this crisis should be seen by the international community in general and the Maghreb in particular as an opportunity and not a threat.
He pointed out that the latest studies conducted by specialized international institutions on the impact of the crisis showed that the fallout of the crisis on the Maghreb will be a moderate one in the next period, yet, it requires greater vigilance from the region’s countries.
Ben Yahia called to strengthen Maghreb partnership in the sector of building and launching of joint marketing actions in the area of tourism. He also called to exert increasing efforts in the area of car industry, given its strong integration in economies of most industrialised countries.
Finance Minister Mohamed Rachid Kéchiche highlighted, as he opened the seminar, that Tunisia’s strong economic foundation will certainly help achieve the revival plans decided by the State under the clear-sighted leadership of the Head of State in order to boost economic activity.
He reminded that the rate of growth expected for 2009 is estimated at 4.5%, despite the world economic recession. The finance minister also reviewed the support measures decided for enterprises in Tunisia and underlined that a good use of available resources is a major guarantee for the achievement of hoped-for targets, while endeavoring to preserve budget balances and cutting public debt rates.
Kechiche also stressed the opportunity offered by Maghreb economic integration, calling to set up appropriate mechanisms to facilitate Maghreb investment and exchanges and encourage the achievement of the Maghreb integration project.
Former Algerian Prime Minister Sid Ahmed Ghozali launched an appeal which is not a plea pro domo urging Maghreb countries to make “drastic and heart-rending watersheds ignoring temporary political obstacles “, by choosing in a long term course and being involved in a streamlining the bases of the solidarity of interests “. So, according to him, a federal effort will fail if not based on solid foundations.
Clearly, it is imperative to unite economic interests economically and to join efforts for an economic convergence, which will prevail over political convergence.
After all, in keeping the status quo, the Maghreb countries maintain a shortfall and a loss of earnings of 10 billion dollars per year and above all, , lose 2 points of growth. That is the prices of non-Maghreb as it emerges from convergent, even unanimous studies.
And then, as underlined by a speaker, why take offense at Maghreb expatriates remittances due to the crisis while 17 billion dollars leave annually the Maghreb to go elsewhere.