Maghreb states agree on agricultural free trade union   Leave a comment

After nearly two decades of negotiations, the five states of the Arab Maghreb Union finally agreed to create an agricultural free trade zone.

The members of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) reached an agreement on the establishment of a Maghreb free trade zone for agricultural products that will take effect in 2011.

AMU Secretary-General Habib Ben Yahia made the announcement at the 16th session of the Maghreb Ministerial Committee for Food Security in Algiers on November 30th.

Ben Yahia described negotiations, which began in 1991, as difficult but added that they “took into account the interests of each country”. The pact will be presented to the trade ministers of the AMU at their next meeting in Tripoli prior to its submission to the Council of Foreign Ministers.

The Maghreb countries are seeking to create an economic bloc to counter effects of the global market and to ensure food security.

The secretary-general said he regretted the fact that the exchange ratio between AMU countries did not exceed 3%, which he said emphasised the need to accelerate the establishment of a free market.

At the end of the meeting, the Maghreb ministers stressed the need to co-ordinate investment laws and regulations to ensure the free flow of capital and to promote the “Future Vision for Agriculture in the Maghreb by 2030″.

The Algerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Rachid Benaïssa, called for “more co-ordination and joint action in the areas of scientific research, training and agricultural advice, as well as issues of water economy and all matters relating to rural development and investment in Maghreb agriculture in order to strengthen the principles of its modernisation”.

“Through work and co-ordination within the framework of the Arab Maghreb Union in a gradual manner and on a sustainable basis, we can improve our Maghreb food security,” Benaissa said. The minister pointed out that the reports and the documentation relating to the vision of the future prospects of the Maghreb in 2030 represent “an important reference for the preparation of an action plan”.

Abdelmajid al-Gaoud, Libyan Secretary-General of the People’s Committee for Agriculture, also called for the establishment of a seed bank and other joint projects.

“The achievement of food security is to achieve the social security of the people of the five countries of the Maghreb,” al-Gaoud said.

During the meeting, the representative of the Libyan delegation strongly criticised the stumbling of the AMU, pointing out to his country’s willingness to support the joint work while railing against the union because “it remains a dream that we cannot abstain from, and even if we can not realise it, we will not stop this dream, until it becomes a reality”.

The Libyan representative called for the need to be realistic, through the application of the common practical matters reached in various meetings, expressing his deep regret for the inability of the countries of the Maghreb Union to ensure food security, as evidenced by the increase in the import of food items to about $30 billion annually.

Tunisian Agricultural Minister Abdessalem Mansour said that co-ordination between the Maghreb countries to improve food security “has become an absolute necessity”.

“We should achieve the aspirations in accordance with a Maghreb vision based on technological development with the thinking in the most effective ways to develop mechanisms for joint action,” Mansour said.

The Tunisian official said, “It is necessary to develop an action plan extending from 2011 to 2020 based on a firm strategy with respect to the exchange of manufactured agricultural products”. He also stressed the need to complete an observatory to monitor the prices of strategic food products, especially grains and dry legumes in light of speculators in the global market.

Moroccan Ambassador to Algeria Abdellah Belkziz called for the “conservation of natural resources such as water from a Maghreb strategic perspective” and the exchange of specialists and experts in the field of desertification, animal and plant health and water use.

Source : libyaninvestment.com

 

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Posted January 12, 2011 by newworldconsulting in Uncategorized

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