ARAB MAGHREB UNION (AMU)
14 Rue Zalagh Telephone: (37)671-274/278/280 Rabat-Agdal Facsimile: (37)671-253 Morocco E-mail: email@example.com Internet: www.maghrebarabe.org Secretary General: ... Habib BOULARES
ESTABLISHMENT AND FUNCTIONS
The Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) encompasses five North African countries that have strong historical, cultural, and language affinities. The first Conference of Maghreb Economic Ministers, which took place in Tunis in 1964, established the Conseil Permanent Cunsultatif du Maghreb (CPCM) between Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia, to coordinate and harmonize the development plans of the four countries as well as interaregional trade and relations with the EU. However, for a number of reasons, the plans never came to fruition. It was not until the late 1980s that new impetus began to bring the parties together again. The first Maghreb Summit of the five Heads of State, held at Zeralda (Algeria) in June 1988, resulted in a decision to set up the Maghreb High Commission and various specialized commissions. Finally, on February 17, 1989 in Marrakech, the Treaty establishing the AMU was signed by the Heads of State of the five countries. As of May 1997, there have been a total of 37 Maghrebi conventions.
The main objectives of the AMU Treaty are to strengthen all forms of ties among Member States (in order to ensure regional stability and enhance policy coordination), as well as to introduce gradually free circulation of goods, services, and factors of production among them. Common defense and non-interference in the domestic affairs of the partners are also key aspects of the Treaty. The Treaty highlights the broad economic strategy to be followed, namely, the development of agriculture, industry, commerce, food security, and the setting up of joint projects and general economic cooperation programs. The agreement does not view bilateral arrangements between the parties as an obstacle to the development of multilateral relations. Finally, the agreement provides the possibility for other Arab and African countries to join the Union at a later stage.
Since 1990, the five countries have signed more than 30 multilateral agreements covering diverse economic, social, and cultural areas. While member countries have ratified varying numbers of these agreements, only five have been ratified by all members of the union. These include agreements on trade and tariffs (covering all industrial products); trade in agricultural products, investment guarantees; avoidance of double taxation; and phyto-sanitary standards.
Since 1989, the Governors and technical staff of the five central banks of the AMU have been meeting regularly. In December 1991, the five banks signed a multilateral agreement to help facilitate interbank payments within the union. The agreement sets unified modalities of payments between the five central banks, and provides for monthly settlement of balances between any two countries without charge of interest on interim balances. The unit of account is the SDR and the settlement currency is chosen by the creditor country.
5 member countries: Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia
The supreme institutional organ that has the authority to make decisions and to which all AMU institutions answer is the Council of Heads of State; its decisions require unanimity. Since the signing of the Treaty, the Council has met, as scheduled (in 1993 this was changed from twice a year to annually), to take decisions concerning regional issues.
A Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers also meets regularly to prepare for the sessions of the Council of Heads of State and to examine proposals formulated by subordinate committees and four specialized ministerial commissions (economy and finance, human resources, basic infrastructures and food security). Since 1989, several working groups have been created to address technical issues. The countries have agreed to set up a regional development bank to finance projects in the region.
A follow-up Committee, consisting of representatives from each Member State, follows the implementation of resolutions adopted by the Council of Heads of State.
A Consultative Assembly, consisting of 30 representatives from each Member State that can advise the Council of Heads of State, and a Court of Justice, composed of two judges from each Member State, have been set up in Algiers and Nouakchott respectively.
In 1992, the AMU's Secretariat General, was established permanently in Rabat. It has an annual operational budget of US$1.7 million, attained through equal contributions from each member.
A number of specialized committees have been working in such areas as food security, economic and financial affairs, basic infrastructure, and human resources.
UPDATED by IMF: December 2003