Arab Maghreb Union

April 13th, 2012 by admin

The Maghreb Union of Countries is an international economic bloc that has been developing for almost sixty years. Encompassing five nations with a combined population of only 94.5 million people, the Maghreb Union unites the economic goals of Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco and Libya. Each of these countries has a relatively small GDP as compared to many of the world’s economic giants, and by combining their economic efforts they hope to become more competitive while also being able to share the resources they are using to develop their economies. Although the Maghreb Union has faced many difficulties since its conception, in recent years the coalition has begun to make tangible progress towards its objectives.


The History of the Arab Maghreb Union

The nations of the northwest corner of Africa share a unique set of economic challenges, and the long cultural history of the region has made it even more important for these countries to work together to create prosperity. In order to be competitive in the world economy, these smaller nations have long understood the importance of cooperation to promote the stability of a region that has been the scene of social upheavals for decades in order to foster foreign confidence in investment in the region. From its inception in 1956, the Maghreb Union has had to overcome a series of obstacles to its successful implementation. For this reason the first summit of Maghreb Union members didn’t occur for over thirty years.

Inspired by the independence of Tunisia and Algeria, governments in the region began making plans for an economic coalition in North Africa in 1956, but political unrest in the region saw the implementation of these plans experience setbacks time and again before an accord between the five nations could be reached. Immediately after its launch in 1988, the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) was again disrupted by a popular uprising in Algeria, the scene of the first meeting of the AMU, and the association’s progress was stalled once again. Later, after the suspension of democratic elections in Algeria and escalating tensions between that country and Morocco, the UMA floundered and by 1994 it was in a state of paralysis. Efforts by Libya to further destabilize Algeria seemed to spell the end of the UMA before there had been any real progress on creating the economic coalition.


The Arab Spring and the Resurgence of the UMA

As the pro-democracy movement dubbed the Arab Spring swept through the region there has been a revival of interest in the UMA as the member nations refocus on the benefits that such a union would bring to the region. This led to the first assembly of delegates from the UMA member nations in eighteen years on February 18, 2012, which has once again fueled hopes that the UMA can begin to make progress towards implementing their economic strategies for the region. The change of regime in Libya and the reduction of tensions between Algeria and Morocco have seen the first real possibility of the success of the UMA in nearly sixty years. However, it still remains to be seen whether these five nations can form a truly cohesive economic and cultural bond.


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