Arab Maghreb Union

Arab Maghreb Union
اتحاد المغرب العربي
Seat of Secretariat Rabat, Morocco
Largest city Algiers
Official language Arabic
Demonym Maghrebis
Member states
 Secretary General
Taïeb Baccouche
6,041,261 km2 (2,332,544 sq mi) (7th)
 2010 estimate
98,517,056 (13th)
14.71/km2 (38.1/sq mi) (207th)
GDP (PPP) 2017 estimate
$1.155.777 trillion (20th)
 Per capita
$9,835.46 (88th)
GDP (nominal) 2017 estimate
$400.532 billion (26th)
 Per capita
$6,229.00 (97th)
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The Arab Maghreb Union (AMU); Arabic: اتحاد المغرب العربي Ittiḥād al-Maghrib al-‘Arabī) is a trade agreement aiming for economic and future political unity among Arab countries of the Maghreb in North Africa. Its members are the nations of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.[1] The Union has been unable to achieve tangible progress on its goals due to deep economic and political disagreements between Morocco and Algeria regarding, among others, the issue of Western Sahara. No high level meetings have taken place since 3 July 2008[2] and commentators regard the Union as largely dormant.[3][4][5]


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 in 1988.[6] The Union was established on 17 February 1989 when the treaty was signed by the member states in Marrakech.[6][7] 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 reserves, and it is a transit centre to southern Europe. The success of the Union would, therefore be economically important.[8]


There is a rotating chairmanship within the AMU which is held in turn by each nation. The current Secretary-General is the Tunisian Taïeb Baccouche.[9][10]


Country Area (km²) Population[11]
(millions, 2013)
GDP (PPP) per capita[12]
GDP (nominal)[13]
(billions US$)
HDI (2014)[14]
 Algeria2,381,74139.213,888177.50.736 (high)
 Libya1,759,5406.215,87770.10.724 (high)
 Mauritania1,025,5203.94,3145.10.506 (low)
 Morocco710 85033.8[15]7,813145.080.628 (medium)
 Tunisia163,61011.011,34148.60.721 (high)

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 resolution.


There have been problems of traditional rivalries within the AMU. For example, in 1994, Algeria decided to transfer the presidency of the 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 leader, Muammar Gaddafi, stated that it was time to put the Union "in the freezer".[16] This raised questions about Libya's position towards the Union. The concern was that Libya would have a negative influence on the manner in which it would preside over the organization.[8]

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 Sahrawi independence. Algeria has continuously supported the Polisario Front liberation movement.[8]

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.[8]

In addition, the quarrel between Gaddafi's Libya and Mauritania has not made the task of reinvigorating the organisation any easier. Mauritania has accused the Libyan Secret Services of being involved in a 2003 attempted coup against President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya. Libya has denied the accusation.[17]

See also


  1. Francesco Tamburini, L'Union du Maghreb Arabe, ovvero l'utopia di una organizzazione regionale africana, en "Africa", N. 3, 2008, p. 405-428
  2. Official Website: upcoming meetings
  3. "Tunisia president in Morocco to promote Maghreb union". Al Arabiya. 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  4. Publitec Publications (ed.). Who's Who in the Arab World 2007-2008. De Gruyter. p. 1117. ISBN 978-3-598-07735-7. It was reported in early January 2006, that the largely moribund Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) had appointed...
  5. Thorne, John (February 17, 2012). "The liberated Maghreb looks to economic union". The National. Abu Dhabi. Tunisia's interim president, Moncef Marzouki, toured Morocco, Mauritania and Algeria last week in a bid to breathe life into the moribund Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), a planned North African trading bloc. While economic integration could boost employment and living standards across the region, leaders largely unanswerable to voters dithered for years in making it happen.
  6. 1 2 "UMA - Arab Maghreb Union". UN Economic Committee for Africa. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  7. Bensouiah, Azeddine (26 June 2002). June 2002 "Stunted growth of the Arab Maghreb Union". Panapress.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Aggad, Faten. "The Arab Maghreb Union: Will the Haemorrhage Lead to Demise?" African Insight. 6 April 2004.
  9. "Maghreb: Taieb Bacchouche, New Chairman of Arab Maghreb Union | The North Africa Post". The North Africa Post. 2016-05-06. Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  10. "Taieb Baccouche Appointed Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union". Tunisia-TN. 2016-05-05. Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  11. "Total Population - Both Sexes". World Population Prospects, the 2012 Revision. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, Population Estimates and Projections Section. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  12. World Economic Outlook Database, October 2015, International Monetary Fund. Database updated on 6 October 2015. Accessed on 6 October 2015.
  13. "World Economic Outlook Database".
  15. "Note sur les premiers résultats du Recensement Général de la Population et de l'Habitat 2014". HCP. 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  16. Le Quotidien d'Oran. 2003. Le Maghreb en Lambeaux. 23 December 2003. p 1
  17. Le Quotidien d'Oran. 2003. La Libye dément avoir financé un plan présumé de coup d'État en Mauritanie. 21 December. p 9
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