Western Mediterranean: business can make integration possible

The second edition of the Economic Business Forum of the Western Mediterranean 5+5 was held in Lisbon where the importance of businesses in the process of integration with the countries of the Maghreb was reasserted

«An integrated view with the Maghreb countries is strategic to our future. But cooperation between the companies of the 5 +5 Dialogue countries is essential. The policies to be implemented, however, must take into consideration that 80% of our economy is made up of SMEs» Paulo Portas, the Vice Prime Minister of Portugal, said opening the second edition of the "Economic Forum of the Western Mediterranean ", held May 21 in Lisbon, entitled "Sustainable Development: Environment, Transports and Infrastructures. Challenges, cooperation and business opportunities ".

The Lisbon Forum - which follows the first edition of Barcelona of October 23, 2013 - takes place within the integration action that Foreign Affairs Ministries are carrying out with the 5+5 Dialogue. The initiative includes Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Malta on the one hand and Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya on the other - and it was organized by Portugal and Mauritania, the current co-chairs of the 5 +5 Dialogue, in collaboration with the Union for the Mediterranean.

A strongly operative Forum focused on the following sectors: water and environment, infrastructures and financing of projects and applications for a sustainable economy (energy, water management, environmental technology, agriculture, marine resources, mobility and tourism, smart cities, etc...), in a perspective of the opportunities for businesses in order to identify possible joint initiatives.

Because as pointed out by the Deputy Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, Claudio Cortese, "The integration process of the region is made together with businesses,  and the Union for the Mediterranean is ready to support businesses in this process."

The centrality of the role of businesses in the process of economic integration in the Western Mediterranean was firmly stressed by Hichem Elloumi, Vice President of the Tunisian Union for Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts (UTICA), the country's central business organization, which pointed out that "the integration North - South is essential but the one  South - South is equally important ". And the South-South integration is moving ahead quickly with an approach shared by all the business associations of the countries of the Maghreb. “We wanted to strengthen the Union Maghrébine des Employeurs (UME) with the Initiative Maghrébine du Commerce et de l'Investissement (IMCI),  to push the governments of our countries to achieve the Single Market in the Maghreb," Elloumi concluded.

The IMCI, launched in February 2014 in Marrakech during the third edition of the Forum des Entrepreneurs Maghrébins, had been agreed upon on the sidelines of the first western Mediterranean Economic Forum in October 2013, testimony of the "importance of the regularity and continuity of the 5 +5 meetings” emphasized during the last Forum in Lisbon by the Secretary General of the Union of the Mediterranean, Fathallah Sijilmassi.

In the afternoon, B2B meetings were held. As with the previous edition, the Forum was attended by Confindustria Assafrica & Mediterraneo and some of its associates.



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