OBG talks to Zahra Maafiri, Director-General, Maroc Export

Zahra Maafiri, Director-General, Maroc Export

Interview: Zahra Maafiri

How should the National Pact for Industrial Emergence be extended to boost exports to the EU?

ZAHRA MAAFIRI: At the beginning of its industrialisation process, Europe was Morocco’s natural main trading partner due to outsourcing and subcontracting operations and agreements, most notably in traditional segments such as textiles and leather. Since then, Morocco has developed know-how in several areas, in addition to a competitive fabric supply segment. This is the result of several proactive sector-specific policies, notably the industrial strategy. As a whole, the strategic partnership between Morocco and the EU breaks down to being a co-contracting approach based not on sub-contracting but on the share of expertise and know-how that encompasses the traditional segments of textiles and leather but also, increasingly, new cutting-edge fields with strong local value-added such as electronics, automobiles and aeronautics.

Over the past few years, changes in the kingdom’s trade strategy have given a new impulse to South-South cooperation and opened new highways to develop Morocco’s economic position as a strategic partner on the African continent. We have also adapted our approach to the needs of our continent and developed multiple opportunities for win-win industrial partnerships with our neighbours in sub-Saharan Africa.

As for Europe, the continent has reached maturity in its current cycle of development and is seeking new outlets, notably in Africa. In this vein, the positioning of Morocco in Africa is a major asset to exploit within the framework of our partnership with the EU in several areas related to infrastructure, energy, real estate and construction, electricity, information technology (IT), pharmaceuticals and chemical industries.

From this, Morocco’s economic partnership with the EU can be envisaged within a triangular cooperation framework, or what we call a “Europe-Morocco-Africa” geographical export circuit. This triangular cooperation could be extended to other regions where the Morocco-EU offer can be the most complementary.

Which sectors have boosted the growth of Moroccan exports to Africa over the past five years?

MAAFIRI: South-South cooperation plays a growing role in the promotion of Moroccan exports. Nonetheless, to establish mutually beneficial partnerships, this cooperation must be complementary to the strategic plans and projects developed by sub-Saharan African countries. Today, the elaboration of an African strategy requires more accurate targeting of opportunities but always with a goal of sharing expertise among our respective economies.

In that sense, Maroc Export organises targeted sector-specific missions by taking into consideration the expectations and needs of the private sector in Morocco and partner countries. The potential is real for several sectors, notably the electrical and pharmaceutical segments, which have shown their maturity in a number of African countries. The real estate and construction sector is another area that has seen strong growth and could contribute to projects in several segments. We are also seeing expansion in a wide array of services ranging from engineering and vocational training to IT and agro-business.

What incentives might encourage more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to export?

MAAFIRI: Several schemes have been implemented to reinforce the exporting capacity of Moroccan SMEs within the national strategy of export promotion. This strategy includes three key tenets: targeting sectors and products, focusing on promising markets, and assisting private operators in their exporting approach. Beyond the Maroc Export Plus strategy, the government has also launched several sector-specific plans aimed at increasing the Moroccan exportable supply and adapting it to the needs and evolutions of changing international demand. These offers benefit from a robust promotional programme within Maroc Export, including measures such as the organisation of, for instance, trade shows and communication campaigns.

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Zahra Maafiri

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The Report: Morocco 2014

Economy chapter from The Report: Morocco 2014

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