Marrakech — Over 600 business and financial figures from across North Africa met in Marrakech February 17th-18th for the third Maghreb Entrepreneurs’ Forum.
The goal of the gathering, which was held at the prompting of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM) and its Maghreb Employers’ Union (UME), was to re-launch the economic integration of the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) through the efforts of the private sector.
The region currently faces multiple economic and security challenges, hence the « urgent need to boost economic and commercial exchange », Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) Secretary-General Habib Ben Yahia told Magharebia on the side-lines of the meeting.
During his speech, Moroccan Prime Minister Abdeliliah Benkirane said that « the UMA exists geographically, culturally and even economically thanks to investors who, despite the political obstacles, have dared to invest in a Maghreb nation other than their country of origin, but the desired economic integration that the people of the Maghreb aspire to remains out of reach. »
Miriem Bensaleh, the president of the Moroccan employers’ association, pointed out that the role of business actors was not to re-launch the union, « but to create forums for economic exchange, a regional market and an ecosystem capable of creating employment for young people, added value and wealth ».
IMF chief Christine Lagarde urged Maghreb states to discuss economic integration in more depth « in order to address young people’s expectations ».
She added that it was high time for the Maghreb to adopt a regional investment code and customs regulations « to enable formal trade to take over from informal trade ».
Simon Gray, the head of the World Bank’s Maghreb department, lamented the lack of economic integration across the region, saying it was responsible for the unemployment of thousands of young people.
« Studies conducted by the World Bank show that the loss of earnings due to the lack of Maghreb integration is estimated at 3 to 9 billion dollars per annum for the region as a whole, » he said.
Hicham Loumi, the Tunisian president of a group that specialises in automotive wiring and has been based in Tangier for 10 years, underlined the importance of streamlining administrative procedures for investors.
Copyright © 2014 Magharebia. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.
AllAfrica aggregates and indexes content from over 130 African news organizations, plus more than 200 other sources, who are responsible for their own reporting and views. Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica.