Arab Maghreb Union
|Seat of Secretariat||Rabat, Morocco|
|Largest city||Algiers |
|-||Secretary General||Habib Ben Yahia|
|-||Total||6,041,261 km2 (7th)
2,332,544 sq mi
|-||2010 estimate||92,517,056 (13th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2010 estimate|
|-||Total||$607.631 billion (24th)|
|-||Per capita||$6,835.46 (100th)|
|GDP (nominal)||2010 estimate|
|-||Total||$375.932 billion (26th)|
|-||Per capita||$4,229.00 (97th)|
The Arab Maghreb Union (AMU; Arabic: اتحاد المغرب العربي Ittiḥād al-Maghrib al-‘Arabī; French: Union du Maghreb arabe, UMA) is a trade agreement aiming for an economic and future political unity among Arab countries of the Maghreb in North Africa. Its membership is the countries Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.
The union is inactive and frozen due to deep political and economical disagreements between Morocco and Algeria regarding, among others, the issue of Western Sahara.
The idea for an economic union of the Maghreb began with the independence of Tunisia and Morocco in 1956. It was not until thirty years later, though, that five Maghreb states - Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia - met for the first Maghreb summit. The following year, in 1989, the agreement was signed by all member nations. According to the Constitutive Act, its aim is to guarantee cooperation “with similar regional institutions... [to] take part in the enrichment of the international dialogue... [to] reinforce the independence of the member states and... [to] safeguard... their assets....” Strategic relevance of the region is based on the fact that, collectively, it boasts large phosphate, oil, and gas and it is a transit centre to southern Europe. The success of the Union would, therefore be economically important.
There is a rotating chairmanship within the AMU which is held in turn by each nation. The current secretary-general is Tunisian diplomat Habib Ben Yahia.
(USD, per capita)
|Morocco||710 850||32.3||5,100||103.8||0.582 (medium)|
During the 16th session of the AMU Foreign ministers, held on 12 November 1994 in Algiers, Egypt applied to join the AMU grouping. The Western Sahara conflict is pending of resolution.
There have been problems of traditional rivalries within the AMU. For example, in 1994, Algeria decided to transfer the presidency of AMU to Libya. This followed the diplomatic tensions between Algeria and other members, especially Morocco and Libya, whose leaders continuously refused to attend AMU meetings held in Algiers. Algerian officials justified the decision, arguing that they were simply complying with the AMU constitutive act, which stipulates that the presidency should in fact rotate on an annual basis. Algeria agreed to take over the presidency from Tunisia in 1994, but could not transfer it due to the absence of all required conditions to relinquish the presidency as stipulated by the constitutive act.
Following the announcement of the decision to transfer the presidency of the Union, the Libyan President, Muammar Gaddafi, stated that it was time to put the Union “in the freezer”. This raises questions about Libya's position towards the Union. The concern is that Libya will have a negative influence on the manner in which it will preside over the organization.
Moreover, traditional rivalries between Morocco and Algeria, and the unsolved question of Western Sahara's sovereignty, have blocked union meetings since the early 1990s despite several attempts to re-launch the political process. Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony south of Morocco that was "reintegrated" by the kingdom of Morocco, has declared independence as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The latest top-level conference, in mid-2005, was derailed by Morocco's refusal to meet, due to Algeria's vocal support for Saharan independence. Algeria has continuously supported the POLISARIO liberation movement.
Several attempts have been made, notably by the United Nations, to resolve the Western Sahara issue. In mid-2003, the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy, James Baker, proposed a settlement plan, also referred to as the Baker Plan II. The UN’s proposal was rejected by Morocco and accepted by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. As far as bilateral attempts are concerned, very little has been achieved, as Morocco continues to refuse any concessions that would allow the independence of Western Sahara, while Algeria maintains its support for the self-determination of the Sahrawis.
In addition, the quarrel between Libya and Mauritania does not make the task of reinvigorating the organisation any easier. Mauritania has accused the Libyan Secret Services of being involved in a recent attempted coup against President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya. Libya has denied the accusation.
See also 
- African Economic Community (AEC)
- Arab League
- Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
- Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
- Euro-Mediterranean free trade area (EU-MEFTA)
- Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA)
- List of trade blocs
- US - Middle East Free Trade Area (US-MEFTA)
- Union for the Mediterranean (UfM)
- Francesco Tamburini, L’Union du Maghreb Arabe, ovvero l’utopia di una organizzazione regionale africana, en "Africa", N. 3, 2008, p. 405-428
- Bensouiah, Azeddine (26 June 2002). June 2002 "Stunted growth of the Arab Maghreb Union". Panapress.
- Aggad, Faten. "The Arab Maghreb Union: Will the Haemorrhage Lead to Demise?" African Insight. April 6, 2004.
- "2012 stats". Retrieved July 19, 2012.
- Le Quotidien D’Oran. 2003. Le Maghreb en Lambeaux. 23 December 2003. p 1
- Le Quotidien D’Oran. 2003. La Libye Dement Avoir Finance un Plan Presume de Coup d’Etat en Mauritanie. 21 December. p 9
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