While calls are being made for the five Maghreb countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania and Libya) to establish a joint economic bloc, Driss El Karaoui, a Moroccan economist, believes that the analysis of integration in the Moroccan region should focus on the current development situation of these countries.
El Karaoui began a research paper on the integration of the Maghreb, published in the bulletin of the World Social Work Council, pointing out that the Maghreb market is characterized by contradictory levels, the result of the different evolution of each of the five countries since its independence, which affects the various areas of development of each country.
The former head of the Competition Council commented on the situation in Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, highlighting that they face severe problems at the political, social and economic levels, which negatively affect social and economic development and infrastructure. Thus, he adds, the performance of the three countries mentioned in this respect is “clearly divergent”.
Morocco, on the other hand, is in a better position, according to the analysis presented by El-Karawi based on a comparison of the evolution of the indicators, explaining that the Kingdom enjoys a real engine in the Maghreb region, and the leading role playing in Africa and the Arab region, and as a strong partner of Europe, qualified it to be a locomotive of real regional leadership.
In numbers, the Moroccan economist explained Morocco’s leadership position in the region, where the growth rate of its gross domestic product over the last four decades increased by 5.46 percent, reaching some 119 billion dollars, while the GDP growth rate in Algeria was in the range of 4.01 percent and 4.43 percent in Tunisia.
Although the rate in Mauritania reached 7.2 percent, El Karaoui attributed this increase to the low level of GDP, which hovered around US$1 million in 1980.
El Karaoui, member of the Board of Directors of the World Council of Social Work and responsible for the Middle East and North Africa region in the council, reviewed other indicators on the advanced situation of Morocco compared to the four Maghreb countries, since It has the highest percentage of Internet users in the region with 58.3%, in addition to its stability in the enjoyment of security, where it registered the lowest homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants (1.4 percent), which is the lowest rate in the region.
The Moroccan economist highlighted that the performance achieved by Morocco in the aforementioned areas, which are closely related to the business climate, enhances its attractiveness; It owns a large part of foreign direct investment.
He explained that Morocco’s situation will improve further in the future thanks to its continued strengthening of its infrastructure, noting that the high-speed railway linking Casablanca, Tangier and the Mediterranean port of Tangier helped the Kingdom move towards reaching a point of turning point in freight transport and rail transport in the Mediterranean and Africa. He hoped that the Dakhla port, construction of which is underway, would turn Morocco’s southern regions into a “true international hub.”
Despite the positive indicators that Morocco has achieved in the economic, social and infrastructure fields, El Karaoui registered a contradiction in that Morocco’s performance in the human development index is still weak compared to Tunisia, Algeria and Libya.
In the 2019 Human Development Index, Morocco ranks 121 out of 189 countries, while Algeria ranks 82, Tunisia 91, Libya 110 and Mauritania 161.
The reason for ranking Morocco and Mauritania at the bottom of the Human Development Index is due to their “very low performance” in the fields of education and health.
Based on the analysis of the “contradictory facts” of the five Maghreb countries, El Karaoui concluded that the lack of Maghreb integration in the context of current regional globalization entails a “high cost” for the five countries of the region, which the experts they estimate it will exceed 3 percent of their GDP.