Interview: Salaheddine Mezouar
What strategies will Morocco pursue to foster its integration into the global economy?
SALAHEDDINE MEZOUAR: Economic openness and integration have long been a priority for Morocco, particularly after the EU-Morocco Association Agreement signed in 1996. This has been followed by free trade agreements (FTAs) signed with the members of the Agadir Agreement (Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan), the US and Turkey.
This approach should be maintained in the next few years. Our overall objective is to diversify Morocco's partnerships globally and to promote economic integration by building up relationships based on a shared vision and a win-win approach. Indeed, enhanced integration with the EU remains a priority, with negotiations ongoing regarding the EU-Morocco Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). This agreement will complete the Association Agreement concluded between Morocco and the EU, and it covers a wider range of areas including trade in services, investment, government procurement and other trade rules. The DCFTA aims to achieve a gradual integration of the Moroccan economy into the internal market of the EU, through regulatory convergence. The deal is expected to have a positive impact on Moroccan companies, as it will provide access to a number of different sectors in Europe. Additionally, in order to build a prosperous Arab Maghreb Union, Morocco is continuing its efforts to support regional economic integration. This represents an opportunity for all countries in the region.
Africa is also a priority for Morocco, specifically reinforcing South-South partnerships. This dynamic started 10 years ago and is now stronger than ever thanks to several multidimensional partnerships enabling Moroccan companies to invest in Africa. It is thus vital to finalise and implement preferential trade agreements with the West African Economic and Monetary Union and the Economic Community of Central African States. To this end, an asymmetric approach has been adopted, which involves allowing African goods to enter the Moroccan market without import taxes, whereas taxes on goods exported from Morocco to African markets will gradually decrease over a 10-year timeframe.
The kingdom benefits from investment and trade opportunities in its key partnership with the Gulf Cooperation Council, and is continuing its efforts to conclude a balanced FTA with Canada. For Latin America, Morocco is laying down the groundwork for a future partnership with Mercosur. This is in addition to agreements to cement partnerships with Russia and China.
How can Morocco contribute to the stabilisation of the Sahara-Sahel region?
MEZOUAR: The Sahara-Sahel region is currently undermined by the presence of players who take advantage of a fragile situation in which states struggle to control their borders or address the challenges of poor economic development, human and weapon trafficking, religious fundamentalism and violence. As part of promoting stabilisation in the region, Morocco has developed an approach based on four pillars. The first pillar is the development of partnerships and investment, specifically strategic and targeted investment. As the leading African investor in West Africa, and second in the African continent, we are aiming to have a direct impact on local populations by enabling them to tap into basic needs such as infrastructure, energy, real estate, water, utilities, rural electrification, fishing, banking and telecoms. Furthermore, 12,000 African students are currently studying annually in Morocco.
Our second pillar relates to human development and the need to address the growing migratory flows across the continent. Policies have been put in place to help stabilise the population, improve agricultural yields and food security, and encourage income-generating activities related to microfinance. Our third pillar has a spiritual dimension, as Morocco is committed to training imams and transmitting values of tolerance and peace. Lastly, our fourth pillar relates to security, where Morocco offers cooperation in terms of military training and through the ongoing exchange of information.
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