The Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Mediterranean (ASCAME), together with the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), will organize the 14th edition of the North African Business Development Forum (NABDF), which will take place in the framework of the 11th edition of the Mediterranean Week of Economics Leaders (MedaWeek Barcelona), on November 22nd in Barcelona.

Barcelona, September 12, 2017 – Recent events show that today the terrorist threat knows no borders and seems to have become the main enemy of security and developing economies. The Maghreb countries are well aware of the seriousness of this threat, which has profoundly impacted its economies by considerably weakening foreign investment and strategic sectors such as tourism. 

Security seems to eclipse the attention of the Maghreb countries, despite the enormous opportunity and commercial potential they represent for Europe and, in particular, for Spain and its companies. In the Maghreb countries as a whole, 100 million people are living at an average age of 24, an estimated wealth of half a trillion dollars, a fiscal surplus that reached $ 30,000 billion, with foreign exchange reserves exceeding $ 300,000 billion.

The Maghreb is yet to play a leading role on the world stage. Many sectors have sufficient potential to invest, such as the food sector, renewable energies, water and waste management, among others. Agricultural traditions and food culture in the Mediterranean region have long been viewed as an example of a healthy approach to food, backed by dynamic rural economies. But demographic and environmental pressures, linked to climate change and social and economic challenges, now pose questions about the future of the region’s food systems and its implications for sustainable development. Such risks should be offset by the adoption of more sustainable approaches to agricultural production and stronger policies based on multisectoral approaches. This diversified approach, as well as employment growth, especially among young people, is necessary to maintain the socio-political stability of the area.

The North African Business Development Forum (NABDF) was born in 2002 to boost the role of private sector in this region and as an annual meeting point between entrepreneurs, economics experts, bankers, institutional and governmental representatives. This year, ASCAME and IEMed will together organize the 14th edition of the forum, which will take place in the framework of the 11th Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders (MedaWeek Barcelona) on November 22nd in Barcelona.

The consolidated forum will bring together entrepreneurs, experts,  governmental and institutional representatives from countries on the two shores of the Mediterranean to discuss the economic growth of the Maghreb countries, to know the business climate in the area and also its main challenges such as creating an environment favorable to investment, improving infrastructure and improving human capital.

The forum will present the opportunities and realities of a region in which to believe and support in the medium and long term. Europe and the world must invest in this region and devote economic and intellectual resources to achieving a prosperous and sustainable environment, especially at times such as the current political and security uncertainties.

A security-oriented policy cannot be our only option. Fostering economic cooperation would help to find solutions to the problems of immigration and radicalization, as well as boosting job creation and investment. Threats are certainly shared, and the solutions must be so.