There is a remarkable strategic partnership between Gabon and the Kingdom of Morocco. I praise the extent of this historic alliance, one that is characterised by a series of significant bilateral agreements; regular bilateral forums; frequent meetings at international summits; and a strongly integrated Gabonese and Moroccan diaspora in our respective countries. These strong ties were patiently built by our illustrious predecessors, to whom I would like to pay respect. The success of this special relationship calls for a moment of reflection on the strength and diversity of our many connections, and the various areas of common interest.

The recent implementation of the Moroccan-Gabonese Business Council compliments policies that help stabilise the business environment in Gabon. To date this council has significantly increased trade relations between our two countries. Going forward, the hope is that it will help a number of ongoing projects to materialise, and will assist the Kingdom of Morocco attain a greater footing in our country.

Moroccan exports to Gabon have grown significantly over recent years, whilst conversely Gabonese exports have drastically increased to the Kingdom of Morocco. Significant sectors of the Moroccan economy, ranging from air transportation to telecommunications, banking and housing, have, over recent years, placed their trust in the Gabonese market. Institutional initiatives in mining and forestry, national defence, and health care, have reinforced the socioeconomic and commercial dimensions of our political and economic partnership. We expect this trade to increase even further over the next few years.

In March 2010, during my official visit to the Kingdom, I made a plea in front of a group of Moroccan entrepreneurs that was well received. This discussion laid the groundwork for the success of the second Morocco-Gabonese day in 2012. This day led to new avenues of cooperation and investment, and paved the way for the signature of several contracts between economic operators in both countries. During a recent official visit by King Mohammed VI to Gabon, these initial discussions were verified by new agreements in health; training of paramedical personnel; social and health action; civil protection; fraud prevention; and communication. This recent visit illustrated our mutual willingness to encourage growth in key sectors of the economy.

Bilateral relations have been strengthened by our national economic commitments which, in Gabon’s case, are the realisation of the Strategic Plan of Gabon Emergent. With determination and pragmatism, the king also enacted important institutional reforms that have resulted in free and transparent elections, a strengthening of the rule of law, and the promotion of women’s rights.

Today, the Kingdom of Morocco can be legitimately proud that it presents the image of an innovative and modern kingdom to the world, and a country where the will of the people is respected. The project of regionalisation, and the large economic and social projects under way, command respect and admiration from us all. Within a context where Morocco’s trade and investment in Africa has increased considerably, Gabon is keen to become the gateway of choice for Moroccan investors entering Central Africa.

I would therefore like to assure his majesty of our unfailing support for Morocco in acquiring observer status to both the Central African Economic and Monetary Community and the Economic Community of Central African States. Gabon and Morocco remain committed to the promotion of further South-South cooperation and the shared aspirations of our peoples and nations.

United we have a credible position among nations, with our common commitment to peace and stability on the continent and around the world; our willingness to prioritise dialog and negotiations in the resolution of conflicts; our rejection of extremism; and our provision of financial and moral support.