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Political differences weaken trade among Maghreb states

Political differences between members of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) weaken the volume of trade between them, the organisation's secretary-general said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a seminar organised to present the finding of a study on trade volumes between AMU member states, Taïeb Baccouche said: "It must be recognised that political differences negatively affect the economic side of this Maghrebi gathering."

According to Baccouche, a study conducted by the Union's General Secretariat revealed the weak trade exchange between member states compared to the trade volume with other countries, especially European states.

"The percentage of trade volume between the bloc's member states ranges from three to five per cent of the total trade volume which is very weak compared to the trade volume with other countries which represents more than 90 per cent."

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"The Arab Maghreb Union is theoretically qualified to be the most advanced of all the African continent, but this is not true on the ground," he said.

The secretary-general called on the union's member states to put political differences aside and focus on economic cooperation in order to achieve additional growth which contributes to creating jobs for thousands of citizens.

The Arab Maghreb Union consists of five countries: Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania. However, it has not held a summit since 1994 as a result of differences between Morocco and Algeria over the Western Sahara region.

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