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COMESA and the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in mid-December 2017 to officially start cooperation based on areas of expertise, differences and complementarities.

AMU Secretary General His Excellency Dr Taieb Baccouche and COMESA Secretary General Mr Sindiso Ngwenya signed the MoU on behalf of the two RECs in Tunis. The ceremony was honored and witnessed by the presence of His Excellency the State Secretary in Charge of Trade, of the Republic of Tunisia Hichem Ben Ahmed and Senior Representatives from AU Member States and Private Sector.

In his statement, Dr Baccouche highlighted the benefits that UMA can derive from the cooperation because COMESA has well advanced in technology and innovations regarding e-Trade platforms, Virtual Trade and Transport Facilitation, coordinated and integrated border post management. COMESA also has expertise in running paperless meetings and in gender mainstreaming with the 50 million Africa Women Speak Platform Project.

For his part, Mr Ngwenya stressed that apart from important natural resources like oil, metallic and non-metallic minerals, and fisheries, the AMU region has most of the key characteristics of dynamic markets, such as population, per capita income, geographic continuity, transport infrastructure, human resources, cultural and linguistic affinities. He further observed that the COMESA and UMA regions had complementary economies that required the establishment of common policies and institutional mechanisms to create a virtuous circle of inclusive growth and sustainable development through trade and investment.

The two Institutions agreed to work together to fulfill the RECs mandate of being building blocks for the establishment of the African Economic Community pursuant to the Abuja treaty adopted on June 3, 1991 at Abuja, with the entry into force on May 12, 1994 and Agenda 2063 of the African Union by enhancing mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation.

The MoU was signed on 19 December 2017.