South-South Regional Integration: A way forward to a sustainable economic recovery post-Covid19 - Regionalprogramm Politischer Dialog und regionale Integration im Südlichen Mittelmeer
As part of the efforts undertaken to connect rescue (emergency-oriented measures) to a sustainable economic recovery in the region, the Regional Programme Political Dialogue South Mediterranean of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS PolDiMed) and the Union of the Mediterranean Confederations of Enterprises (BUSINESSMED) joined forces by hosting a regional conference in Casablanca on the 16th of March 2022.
The conference intended to examine South-South Economic integration’s background from legal, academic, professional and governmental perspectives, to provide an overview on the state of art, challenges and lessons learnt of the existing economic cooperation mechanisms and to highlight perspectives on south-south cooperation post covid19.
Although intraregional trade offers a huge economic potential to regional businesses, the governmental progress is very slow and inefficient in regards to creating a free trade agreement and dismantling major trade obstacles such as an overbearing bureaucracy, no common currency and enormous efforts in logistics and travelling for individual businesses. The African Union is pushing for economic integration.
The private sector is walking in a much faster pace than the governments and governmental organizations. There is a huge interest of private sector enterprises in enhanced regional integration to easier facilitate intra-African trade, and as the private sector organizations have identified the major governmental and logistical obstacles, for example the difficulty of border transits and double taxation, they started lobbying to minimize them.
Before South-South cooperation and trade can be intensified, there needs to be an honest look into the business environment especially of SMEs in their individual countries. Crypto currencies can fill the huge lack of banking in many African countries and might reduce the risk of governmental arbitrariness regarding property rights.
The participants of the event went on a field trip to the global logistics group Dachser. As discussed during the panels, the challenges of intra African logistics are perceived to be one of the biggest obstacles to an intensified South-South cooperation for businesses. Dachser Morocco, which was founded in 1984 and has an annual tonnage of 50000t, welcomed the conference participants and gave not only an insight into operating figures and strategic aspects of logistics in Africa, but also a tour of the premises. The connection between the theoretical discussions of the conference and the firsthand practical experience of the field visit concluded an insightful conference.