Ambassador hails Sino-Moroccan ties
Updated: 2016-05-12 08:28
Envoy to China spells out his vision for future partnership between the two countries
By Jaafar Alj Hakim
The excellent bilateral relations between China and Morocco have led to increased trade and cooperation in a range of fields, and given both countries the opportunity to share their respective cultures and experiences.
The foundation for the strong economic ties that bind the two countries is the Commercial and Economic Agreement signed in Rabat in 1995.
Although the Agreement has provided a good platform for bilateral cooperation, Morocco and China have decided to deepen their relationship through the establishment of a "strategic partnership", with the aim of enhancing trade and promoting investment.
A strong will has been displayed at the highest political level to ensure that this partnership is fully supported, particularly in relation to economic and trade-related activities.
The state visit of Morocco's King Mohammed VI to China on May 11 and 12, heralds the deepening of relations between the two countries and gives new impetus to existing ties, which are founded on mutual trust and solidarity. During the visit, the strategic partnership agreement will be signed by the king and President Xi Jinping.
This new partnership will embrace sectors that are of vital interest to both countries, most notably the economy, investment and trade, industrial development, finance, infrastructure and tourism.
Economic cooperation between Morocco and China has, in general, been on an upward trend, with a trade volume that topped $3.5 billion in 2015.
Despite this, Morocco has a huge trade deficit because of its record imports from, and low exports to, China. To address this imbalance, major Chinese companies have chosen Morocco for their direct investment in recent years.
Morocco hopes for more investment from China, as well as a greater transfer of technology, and greater cooperation over infrastructure construction. China can also engage in greater industrial cooperation with Africa and Europe by using Morocco's geographical advantages and its free trade agreements that allow access to markets in 55 countries, representing 60 percent of global GDP.
Major Chinese companies, including Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp, China Overseas Engineering Group, China North Industries Corp, Sinhoydro, China International Water and Electric Corp and Shanghai Dier Deep Fisheries, are developing their business in Morocco.
The 2014 forum
In November 2014, the Moroccan-Chinese Business Forum was held. It was attended by seven Moroccan ministers, other high-level government officials and 400 investors. The forum aimed to promote a better appreciation of the existing business opportunities offered in Morocco and China, and open up new economic prospects for the two countries.
This new economic partnership between Morocco and China, which was fostered by the forum, is the realization of a new ambition to diversify and balance trade between Morocco and China.
Further to this, it is hoped that the partnership will improve cooperation between Moroccan and Chinese banks, attracting more Chinese investment to Morocco. This policy clearly reflects the king's desire that the Moroccan and Chinese private sectors make a greater contribution to the promotion of the strategic partnership.
Morocco's markets are more open than ever before to Chinese companies, and they offer a modern business environment, integrated industrial platforms and necessary infrastructure and services.
Morocco is also willing to enhance productivity in existing fields of cooperation between the two countries while working with China to develop new sectors for business cooperation and investment.
It is important to understand that the Moroccan economy is in full expansion.
It has diversified and achieved a remarkable performance in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. Many factors made this performance possible, including strong and stable economic growth at 5 percent annually over the past 10 years, and inflation controlled at less than 2 percent. Along with this, various reforms have been introduced to improve the country's business climate, making the country attractive to both national and international investors.
National plans for growth
Morocco's Emergence Plan offers Chinese investors a range of excellent opportunities in sectors such as aerospace, automobile, electronics, textile and leather, offshoring and agro-business. Morocco has designed strategies and policies for each of these sectors to ensure that they offer competitive, profitable and fast-growing projects.
In addition, the Green Morocco Plan aims to facilitate the development of a modern and competitive agriculture industry, and the Moroccan Solar Energy Plan, which has already had investment of $9 billion in industrial, R&D and training components, will place the kingdom at the forefront of global renewable energy production.
There is also Tourism Vision 2020, a program that aims to get Morocco into the world's top 20 destinations; the Logistics Program that aims to reduce the costs of logistics; the Rawaj Vision 2020 Plan to help develop domestic distribution chains and internal commerce; the Halieutis Plan to develop and encourage sustainable fishing, and the Maroc Numeric 2013 Plan to position Morocco as a regional technology hub. All of these plans have given Morocco new impetus, and Chinese companies can make a significant contribution to the country's continuing growth.
The Morocco advantage
There are seven reasons why Chinese companies looking to expand and invest overseas should choose Morocco: cost competitiveness, strong and stable macroeconomic performance, free trade access to 1 billion consumers, world-class infrastructure, a qualified labor force, tailored plans for individual industry sectors and an improving business climate. In addition, the Moroccan embassy in China will gladly offer every assistance to Chinese investors looking to develop and market their products in Morocco.
Morocco's economic stability stems from its strong and stable macroeconomic performance and the gradual introduction of a range of reforms to develop its business environment, infrastructure and social environment.
It has a clear route map in terms of global development, and tailored strategies covering all productive sectors, from the aerospace and automobile industries to offshoring and agro-business.
It is developing a strong processing industry, especially in fertilizers and textiles, and is penetrating new export markets. It is among the top destinations for foreign direct investment in Africa and offers investors the advantage of free trade access to 1 billion consumers.
Future of trade ties
In the medium- and long-terms, Morocco can play a more central role in shaping economic relations between China and the rest of Africa.
Trade between Morocco and China is set to increase exponentially and this will improve the standard of living in both countries. Chinese investors are taking a growing interest in Morocco and this will drive the increase in trade. Bilateral economic relations will be further diversified to encompass unexplored sectors of mutual interest.
Last but not least, the opening of a direct air link between the two countries will significantly contribute to both increased tourism and stronger economic ties.
The writer is the Moroccan ambassador to China.
(China Daily 05/12/2016 page6)
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