Maghreb seen as vast market
Maghreb-USA, Economics, 10/4/2002
The Maghreb region is a vast market with enormous potential, a potential that will serve the economic future of the states of the region and that of the Maghreb-US partnership, said US assistant trade secretary, Samuel Bodeman.
With a 73 million-strong population, the Maghreb states are an extremely promising market for investment and commerce and for regional economic growth, Bodeman told the fourth meeting on the ongoing US-Maghreb Partnership, held Tuesday in Washington.
The meeting was held in the presence of Moroccan economy, finance, privatization and tourism minister, Fathallah Oualalou, Algerian finance minister, Mohamed Terbeche, Tunisian development and international cooperation minister, Mohamed Nouri Jouini, US assistant under secretary in charge of economic affairs, Alan Larson, and assistant under secretary for economic and commercial affairs, Shaun Donneley.
Bodeman, who has just toured Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, lauded the three states' determination to adapt their economic environment to business and growth and to ease free movement of people and goods across North Africa.
According to the US official economic flows between Morocco and the USA grew by 60 percent during the first half of 2002, while exchanges with Algeria doubled over the past four years, going up from $ 2.3 billion in 1999 to $ 4.3 billion in 2001. With Tunisia, trade increased from $ 350 million in 1999 to $ 400 million in 2001.
Bodeman said the success of the US-Maghreb partnership will make of the whole Africa "the future China."
The Moroccan economy, finance, privatization and tourism minister lauded the progress made towards the establishment of a US-Maghreb partnership. He made, in this connection, a case of Morocco's potentials and the interest the Kingdom arouses for the world business community.
Among these potentials, Oualalou cited Morocco's political stability, its strategic geographic location and its sound economic and financial environment.
Morocco is politically pluralist, economically liberal and culturally tolerant, he said, stressing the Kingdom's nature as a country attached to human rights, as evidenced by last week's legislative elections, held in an exemplary climate of freedom and honesty.
Morocco's geographic location makes of the country a gateway to European, African and south Mediterranean markets, the official said.
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