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Morocco and the EU take the first steps in modernising their economic partnership

Both parties agree on the need to adapt to the new global reality and Europe praises the potential of the Alawi country as an important economic player
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Morocco and the European Union are beginning to take firm positions in their mutual relationship. Following a meeting between the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM), the European Commission, BusinessEurope and EuroCham, both parties recognised the need for an upgrade of their economic cooperation. The event was an opportunity to strengthen ties and to reinforce the political actors involved in the Morocco-EU relationship. There, it was discussed that the treaty that unites them has to be stronger, more resilient and with a more important contribution of added value and an encouragement of economic growth.

"The EU and Morocco now have strong and well-established trade and economic ties: total bilateral trade in goods amounted to over €43 billion in 2021, the highest level ever, and we have a stable exchange of services. However, we can do much more, especially to support the green and digital transition of our economies," commented Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commissioner for Trade.

PHOTO/COMISIÓN EUROPEA  -   Úrsula von der Leyen, presidenta de la Comisión Europea
PHOTO/EUROPEAN COMMISSION - Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in Morocco

Like many other countries and institutions, the EU is looking to Moroccan projects in the fight against climate change. The Alawi kingdom is being a pioneer in this economic sector and is demonstrating it with strong and leading proposals in the ecological transition. This industry is seeing great results in the nation itself, which is positioning itself higher and higher and is not going unnoticed, being exposed to great global recognition.

"EU companies and investors recognise Morocco's potential. They look forward to strengthening their relations, backed by solid legal and commercial frameworks. Today's business dialogue will facilitate these important discussions," the Commissioner continued.

The two sides are therefore discussing how to modernise their economic agreement. "From the EU side, we are ready to discuss how to modernise the free trade area, with a specific focus on how we can facilitate additional and more sustainable foreign direct investment," Dombrovskis added. 

AFP/FADEL SENNA - Empleados del grupo francés Renault en Marruecos trabajan en una línea de producción fase en la fábrica de Renault en Tánger
AFP/FADEL SENNA - Employees of the French Renault group in Morocco work on a production line at the Renault factory in Tangier.

The Moroccan side also called for making this new process a reality. Chakib Alj, on behalf of the CGEM, pointed out that the modernisation of the agreement has to be adapted to the new global situation. According to him, Morocco has adopted a new progress and a new economic reality resulting from the coronavirus health crisis. In addition, he also mentioned the conflict in Ukraine and the negative consequences it is having, such as the increase in the price of fuel and some commodities.

However, he also referred to the great opportunities offered by investment in Morocco and the benefits it produces. He also highlighted the role of the private sectors on both sides in strengthening the agreement and building a good partnership with great prospects. In his speech, Alj focused on several of their priorities to improve secure access to markets and to ensure that the Euro-African agreement is properly developed.

PHOTO/COMISIÓN EUROPEA – Úrsula von der Leyen, presidenta de la Comisión Europea, junto a Aziz Akhannouch, primer ministro de Marruecos
PHOTO/EUROPEAN COMMISSION - Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, with Aziz Akhannouch, Prime Minister of Morocco

"Given the need to adapt the EU-Morocco association agreement to the commercial realities of the 21st century and the needs of businesses in important areas such as the digital economy, in the current context of increasing geopolitical risks, it is important for Europe to diversify its markets. Morocco is a natural partner," added Pierre Gattaz, former president of the Mouvement des Entreprises de France (Medef).

Ryad Mezzour, Moroccan Minister of Industry and Trade, highlighted the significant evolution over the last few years, asserting that the country has not stopped growing steadily. This is due to the work of the various governments and the vision of the Alaouite monarchy, which have reaped great rewards and made the North African nation a place that today is capable of facing any kind of challenge. 

PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   Ryad Mezzour, ministro de Industria de Marruecos
PHOTO/FILE - Ryad Mezzour, Minister of Industry of Morocco

"Today, Morocco is a reliable and secure partner; an attractive investment land for Europe and for partners around the world interested in Morocco," the minister said.

The modernisation of this pact has been on the negotiating table between the two parties for months. A month ago, the CGEM and BusinessEurope already adopted an agreement to modernise trade and investment between the country and the European institution.

It should be recalled that the relationship between Europe and Morocco dates back to 2000 with the signing of the first treaty, and since then, it has not been updated. It is an agreement that is based on investment, the reduction of the price of non-tariff barriers for industrial products, the recognition of the laws and standards of both parties, services and transport, the promotion of employment, the customs issue, companies and the business climate and, finally, food safety.