The chairmen of employers’ organisations, members of the Maghreb Employers’ Union (MEU) expressed optimism at the future of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) even though this grouping’s visibility may lack clarity, pointing to the need to create a positive economic Maghreb.
Chiefs of Maghreb employers’ organisations, who held a news conference on Tuesday at the end of works of the second Maghreb Businessmen’s Forum, agreed that there still is some distance to cover but the most important part has already been made, stressing the firm will driving the Maghreb heads of state to build the Great Maghreb and back up any regional economic initiative.
Answering a question on concrete actions taken so far to achieve this much awaited integration, participants underlined that Maghreb countries are active at this level and that ministerial meetings and sector-based strategies are established to achieve the hoped-for targets.
Efforts will focus, they said, on following up and implementing recommendations of these inter-Maghreb meetings.
“AMU is only 21 years old, compared to other regional unions such as the European Union, a 60-year-old grouping.
It derives its strength today from the maturity and awareness of all member countries of the stake of this integration which will help it materialise all initiatives and aspirations of peoples of the region for the creation of this joint space,” said AMU Secretary-General Habib Ben Yahia.
Regarding the Maghreb Bank for Investment and External Trade (BMICE), Mr. Ben Yahia said its effective launch is set for September 2010, pointing out that this structure “will be very beneficial for the Maghreb.”
Answering a question on easing the movement of persons in the Maghreb space, Mr. Ben Yahia said Maghreb interior ministers examine each year these issues.
He argued that the dynamics experienced by air transport in Maghreb capitals, along with the materialisation of the trans-Maghreb motorway project, will certainly bring in the mid-term appropriate solutions to this problem of free circulation of persons
Development and International Co-operation Minister Mohamed Nouri Jouini called to harmonise economic policies in Maghreb countries.
He underlined, at a debate on Tuesday at the closing of the second Maghreb Businessmen’s Forum, that Maghreb integration should be conceived of as a regional design based on rapprochement, particularly of education systems.
The aim, he said, is to raise awareness of the importance of this project and its challenges for the future generations.
Trade and Handicrafts Minister Ridha Ben Mosbah said Maghreb countries have agreed to liberalise the exchange of all manufactured goods and continue talks on liberalisation of the exchange of farming products. In their address, Maghreb businessmen addressed particularly customs difficulties impeding inter-Maghreb trade such as some procedures and taxes imposed on the circulation of goods.
In his answer, Director General of Customs Slimene Ourak said all formalities accompanying goods that transit via Tunisia will be removed by late this year. Control will henceforth be made by Global Positioning System techniques.
According to Secretary of the Libyan General People’s Committee of Planning and Finance Abdelhafidh Zelitni, Maghreb countries are called to draw lessons from the recent global economic crisis to reinforce their economic independence and the integration of their economies. Secretary-General of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) Habib Ben Yahia stressed keenness of Maghreb heads of state to involve professionals (employers, farmers, etc.) in AMU construction project, underlining that the Union’s secretariat has established dialogue on the future of this project with the European Union and the United States and plans to do so with China and Japan.
Chairman of the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts Hedi Djilani called upon Maghreb businessmen to exert more efforts to provide jobs to all Maghreb people and reinforce attributes of invulnerability for the future generations.
It’s worth noting that participants in this Forum recommended to strive to ensure free circulation of goods and persons in the Maghreb region, transfer of capitals, as well as freedom of ownership and investment in this regional space.
They underlined in the Tunis Declaration, adopted at the closing of the Forum, the interest to view the Maghreb economic integration as a solution to achieve the targets of the region’s hoped-for development.