Title: The Mano River Union at 40: from customs liberalisation to confidence building

Authors: Peter Walkenhorst; Jean-Christophe Maur

Addresses: American University of Paris, 6 rue du Colonel Combes, 75007 Paris, France ' The World Bank, Africa Region, 1818 H Street NW, Washington DC 20433, USA

Abstract: The Mano River Union of Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is turning 40. The MRU was founded in October 1973 with the principal aim of advancing economic development through trade integration. The organisation largely ceased activities during the civil wars that engulfed its founding members Liberia and Sierra Leone from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. The violent conflicts highlighted the importance of a broader mandate covering peace, security, good governance, and inclusiveness for regional development when the MRU was formally reactivated in 2004 and restarted operations since 2008. The organisation's focus is nowadays largely on enhancing peace and security in border regions in order to re-establish the foundations for cross-border commerce and investment. Going forward, the union could additionally play a useful role in the regional coordination of mining activities, the spearheading of trade facilitation initiatives, and the collection of consistent policy information and statistics.

Keywords: regional integration; economic development; fragile situations; Mano River Union; Ivory Coast; Guinea; Liberia; Sierra Leone; trade integration; investment; regional coordination.

DOI: 10.1504/AJESD.2014.064375

African Journal of Economic and Sustainable Development, 2014 Vol.3 No.2, pp.89 - 102

Published online: 30 Aug 2014 *

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