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Morocco enters free trade pact with China

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morocco china trade

The north African nation seeks to diversify its trading partners through agreements with the Asian giant as well as India and Brazil.

Morocco has signed a free-trade agreement with China, the North African nation’s largest trading partner in Asia.

While the overall effect on the Moroccan economy is under debate, experts say the agreement will create more purchasing power for Moroccans, who will have access to Chinese goods that are typically less expensive than those produced in country or elsewhere.

The move underscores China’s growing role in the economy of the continent as well as Morocco’s determination to diversify its trading partners. Morocco has also entered trade agreements with Russia and India and an agreement with Brazil is under negotiation.

China is Morocco’s fourth largest trading partner after Spain, France, and the United States. Morocco is China’s seventh largest trading partner in Africa. While trade between Morocco and China has grown in recent years, it is still dwarfed by Chinese trade with neighboring Algeria. Trade between China and Algeria reached $8.6 billion in 2013 compared to $2.3 billion in trade with Morocco.

Experts debate impact

Analysts say the new agreements could have mixed results.

Moroccan textile factory

Moroccan textile factory

On the plus side, competition from Chinese goods could force Moroccan industries to better serve consumers in their country and Moroccan businesses will gain greater access to one of the largest markets in the world.

At the same time, they say, more than half of Moroccan exports are minerals, fertilizers and metals produced by large industries while small businesses struggle to compete.

Some argue that the opening of trade will cost jobs in Morocco, but others note that Moroccan and Chinese workers seldom compete for the same jobs. China’s economy is based on heavy and light industry, while agriculture, food processing and precision manufacturing dominate Morocco’s. The two countries do have some direct competition in textiles and leather.

The agreement will create more wealth in Morocco. With access to cheaper goods, even poor Moroccans will gain spending power.

Economic progress

With a gross domestic product of $252 billion and a population of about 33 million people, Morocco has made significant progress in integrating its economy into the global market through efforts including streamlined procedures for operating a business and launching a nascent aeronautics industry, according to the Heritage Foundation.

After a strong performance in 2015, with growth in the gross domestic product of 4.4%, the Moroccan economy has slowed this year, according to the World Bank. Drought has reduced cereal production, and GDP growth is expected to be less than 2% in 2016.

While Morocco has been a U.S. trading partner, as well as a key ally in the war on Islamist terrorism, the nation in recent years has sought to expand its trading partnerships, notably with members of the BRICS coalition of emerging economies that seeks to break Western domination of the global economy.

BRICS is made up of the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Agreements with India, Russia

In October, Morocco and India signed agreements designed to encourage more trade between the two nations. Morocco’s major exports to India are rock phosphates and phosphoric acid.

In November, Morocco announced a free trade agreement with Russia. Morocco is Russia’s main trade partner on the continent and its exports include citrus fruit, vegetables and frozen sardines.

In June, Moroccan representatives met with trade officials of Brazil to discuss a possible free trade agreement. Brazil is another importer of Moroccan phosphates and its derivatives.

Chinese influence grows

Meanwhile, China is a major trading partner with other African nations including South Africa ($20 billion), Nigeria ($15 billion) and Angola ($36 billion).

China in recent years has been developing relationships with many African countries through investment, aid and trade relationships, driven largely by China’s energy needs.

Morocco, a net oil importer with strong ties to the United States and Europe, has not been of great interest to China until recently. However, Morocco has sought allies in its territorial dispute with the separatist Polisario Front in the Western Sahara.

Given China’s strong trade ties to Algeria, it seems unlikely, however that the Asian nation would support Morocco in that dispute.

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Moroccan leased farmland attract $1.4 billion investment in 2015

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

RABAT (Reuters) – Private investments in Moroccan state-owned land leased to farmers and investors have reached 14 billion dirhams ($1.4 billion) at the end of 2015, a statement from the agriculture ministry said on Monday.

To attract foreign and local investors, the kingdom has been leasing farmland for 20 to 50 percent of its market value on long-term contracts of up to 40 years.

Morocco holds regular tenders as suitable state farmlands are gradually identified and made available.

About 111,000 hectares have been allocated in the last two years, the statement said, and the target is 500,000 hectares by 2020. Total farmland is estimated at about 7.8 million hectares.

Like other North African countries, Morocco is trying to modernise its farms to improve food security and avert the kind of price rises that contributed to popular unrest in Arab countries in 2011.

However, the North African kingdom still remains one of the World’s biggest wheat importers with volumes depending on local harvest.

The amount of investment attracted is 92 percent of the 15.2 billion targeted when the government stepped up the leasing programme to increase production and speed up modernisation of Moroccan farming in 2014.

The 14 billion dirhams investments include 4.7 billion dirhams in developing and equipping farmlands in general, 2.2 billion dirhams in vegetal production and 1 billion dirhams for breeding, the statement carried by the state news agency MAP said.

Morocco is expected to harvest a cereal crop of 3.35 million tonnes this year, down 70 percent from last season’s record 11 million tonnes after severe drought.

Rainfall was 43 percent less than an average year and 45.5 percent less than last season, which makes this the worst season in 30 years, with 98 dry days between November and February.

($1 = 9.6892 Moroccan dirham)


(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Keith Weir)


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An African first, Casablanca hosts the Smart City Expo

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smart city expo casablanca

Casablanca became the first African host to the Smart City Expo this month.

Casablanca achieved a first for Morocco and Africa when it played host to the international Smart City Expo between the 18th and 20th of May this year. While it was a new experience for one of Morocco’s most famous cities, it was also an event with a new focus. The Casablanca Smart City Expo saw a subtle shift in discussions, away from simply technology, to greater emphasis on environmental issues and sustainability.

Technology will always be at the forefront of events such as this, but it appears there is now a commitment to finding ways to use technology for more than just human convenience.

An eclectic and international event

The motto for the May 2016 event was “An open city, inclusive and innovative,” and with guests from around the world, working across multiple platforms, it appears to have lived up to its theme. Academics, researchers and business representatives attended various meetings and workshops, while several events encouraged members of the public to participate too.

Hundreds of participants from across the globe attended the 2 day event, which featured an opening speech from Casablanca’s mayor, Abdelaziz El-Omari, and was officially endorsed by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI.

Casablanca was chosen to host the event by the US Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, while the various exhibitions and public events were organized by Casablanca Events & Animation.

The project saw more than 80 speakers host talks on the integration of technology into city life, and how it can be utilized to improve various aspects of urban living. The four main themes for discussion were Sustainability and Resilience, Mobility and Urban Planning, Collaborative Cities and Citizen Engagement, and Technology and Green Development.

Engaging the local citizenry was a clear priority at the Expo as four major grassroots events looked to attract public involvement. These involved free city-wide Wi-Fi for 4 days, a University showcase of public-centered smart initiatives, a public showing of a new film Human, and a 3 day event for people to try and create new apps.

Aawatif Hayar, Cluster Smart City director of Casablanca, spoke about the significance of reaching out to the people of the city, saying, “This participatory approach will allow us to build projects and interconnected sites in order to gradually develop a smart city…capable of transforming societal and economic challenges into business opportunities.”

Smart Cities aim green

Technology and environmental issues are often viewed as separate or even clashing entities. However, looking at how intelligent use of technology could help solve environmental issues was a key aspect of the Smart City Expo.

Creating technology that cleans up urban environments is intrinsically linked to human welfare, and the desired experience of living in a smart city was central to many platforms.

One of the opening speeches came from Uwe Seidel, a senior consultant from German VDIVDE, who highlighted his views on the cities of the future saying, “The most important thing in building smart cities is to put people first.”

Experts such as Boyd Cohen, urban climate strategist and Entrepreneurship & Sustainability professor at EADA Business School Barcelona, were among other key speakers who reiterated the desire and need for technology to create greener solutions.

Many of the most successful green urban advances have come from Scandinavian cities, and the Expo allowed examples from places such as Finland to be presented to the multinational event.

The United Nations’ Chief of Sustainable Lifestyles, Arab Hoballah, highlighted how integral technology could be for future urban life, saying that cutting edge technology can “be used for achieving sustainability and quality of life.”

Importantly for the African representation in Casablanca, this was an area that Mr. Hoballah felt African nations could make huge progress in. When asked about African nations’ ability to follow in the footsteps of Scandinavia, Hoballah said, “African cities can, and probably will, develop fast, because of digitality…because of smart phones, the kids have the world in their pockets.”

It is fitting that as technology spreads rapidly in Africa’s developing markets, an event that placed great focus on utilizing this for human well-being was held in a major African city. Africa’s first Smart City Expo has come to a close, but after such a large and successful event, it would be no surprise if the continent plays host once again in the near future.

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Smartphone opens up new possibilities for Morocco

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morocco smartphone

Mobile and internet penetration in Morocco continues to grow and crossover, as the country embraces technology.

Technology, and in particular smartphone technology, is changing the way Moroccans live their daily lives. More significantly, the nation’s nascent love affair with smartphones and web apps offers great opportunities for economic growth.

The National Authority of Morocco’s telecoms regulator (ANRT) released a report, earlier this year, that assessed the growth of the telecoms market from 2010-2015. The report found huge growth in mobile phone use, both in terms of penetration and the average time spent using a phone per customer. At the forefront of this expansion, the report highlighted falling costs, especially in areas such as 4G, which has helped bring the use of mobile phones and the Internet more inline. This expansion has seen a 146% increase in the average monthly usage of mobile owners in the past 5 years.

Embracing new ways of living

It would be foolish to dismiss the impact that smartphone technology can have within a country. The Arab Spring movement was, in part, driven forward by the use of social media platforms such as Twitter, which allowed on the spot reports and information from everyday people. While Morocco is a stable country, without much of the political unrest found elsewhere in North Africa, the impact of smartphones and online activity has the potential to bring about an economic revolution.

Online shopping has exploded in Morocco, and the use of mobile phones for web purchases has grown at an astonishing rate. This not only benefits online giants, but encourages local companies and outlets to take advantage of the new trend. Research carried out by MasterCard illustrates just how rapidly the use of smartphones for shopping has increased. In 2013, MasterCard reported that only 9% of users had made an online purchase via their phone in the previous few months. When this survey of 4,000 people was repeated in 2014, the figure had soared to 66%!

Aaron Oliver, head of emerging payments for MasterCard Middle East & Africa, said, “With rapidly increasing internet penetration rates and availability of secure online payment options, the country’s e-commerce industry is well placed to achieve significant growth.”

E-commerce could provide Morocco with a source of revenue that shows no sign of diminishing on a global level, never mind in an emerging market – where the scope for increasing penetration is even larger.

Are social media and apps the second wave of growth?

The ANRT report on mobile expansion showed that in 2012, only 16% of mobile phone owners in Morocco owned a smart phone. By 2014, this figure had risen to 38.2%, which indicates just how quickly the mobile landscape has changed. However, social media has not yet reached anything like the ubiquitous nature of its standing in Europe and North America. This is, like most areas involving the Internet, changing and it is changing at pace.

The Arab Social Media Report found that by 2014, Facebook penetration in Morocco was at 16% of the population, and had a growth rate of 13%, which was the second highest in North Africa.

With social media come apps, social media games and the proliferation of advertising. All of these things open up doors for startup companies, and a wider customer base for existing businesses.

It is therefore no surprise that Moroccan game designers and entrepreneurs have already begun to drive the second wave of Moroccan internet and mobile growth. The private telecom group Inwi now hosts an event called Inwi Days, in which game designers have 24 hours to create a new web game, and pitch it to a panel of judges in order to win a $12,000 prize.

Méditel Telecoms have launched a similar competition for app designers, and while this development of technology is fairly new, the majority of winners have maintained clear roots to Moroccan culture and traditions.

Inwi Days gave two games, Trombia and Runner Roul, the shared first prize, and both games were inspired by Moroccan culture.

Méditel’s app challenge was won by the app Maroc Culture, which is a trivia game that tests the player’s knowledge of Moroccan culture and traditions.

As mobile phones become even more popular, and the Internet plays a greater role in the lives of people across Morocco, such markets will continue to grow. A young generation of innovators is now taking advantage of these openings to create new businesses and trends, but ones that remain quintessentially Moroccan.

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International Marrakech Air Show 2016: Bigger Than Ever

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Marrakech Air Show 2016

The Marrakech Air Show is an international aerospace exhibition and conference, attracting businesses from the industry and worldwide spectators.

On Saturday, the fifth biennial International Marrakech Air Show (IMAS) concluded in stunning style. With every year that passes, it seems that this marquee event becomes ever more important. This year saw in excess of 200 industry leading companies take part and covered more than 70,000 sq. meters of exhibition space. While dazzling aerial displays on the final day are what capture the public’s imagination, the real impact of the event is realized through the forging of new business ties amongst the elite of the aeronautics world. This global exhibition is internationally recognized as being one of the top events on the international aerospace and defense (A&D) calendar, attracting industry leaders and international spectators.

The opening ceremony was kicked off in a traditional fashion by the Moroccan marching band. Afterwards, the Royal Moroccan flag and the International Marrakech Airshow flag were flown in tandem over the airfield by military helicopters. This was followed by a breathtaking display from The Royal Moroccan Army’s Aerobatics team who piloted F16 fighters and concluded the ceremony. The gravitas of the occasion was underscored by the attendance of Moroccan Head of Government, Abdelilah Benkirane.

Attendees and Spectators

Exhibitors included Civil Aviation, Spaceflight, Military Aviation, Defense Technology (from land, air and sea) and Research and Defense authorities from around the globe. There were both static and air exhibitions which included industry leaders and national representatives.

Marrakech Air Show 2016 conferenceKey attractions among the static displays were Dassault Aviation’s Rafale and a long-range Falcon 900LX which required a six-man exhibition team to staff the aircraft and show off its capabilities. Also prominently displayed was a U.S. Air Force C-130J Hercules, from the Ramstein Air Base in Germany. This Behemoth stood out as a symbol of partnership whilst promoting regional security throughout the African continent.

Aerobatic display teams from Italy, the UAE, Spain, The USA and the Royal Moroccan Air Force put on stunning shows for eager onlookers, competing over style and inflight capabilities to battle for pre-eminence in their field. The Italian aerobatic team, Frecce Tricolori, performed at the IMAS for the first time ever. They put on a particularly striking display in traditional Italian colors: red, green and white.

US and Moroccan bonds

With the US contingent of the show boasting 15 participating companies, and as one of the show’s largest exhibitors, it shows how important this region is to the US aerospace and defense industry. Among the companies representing the US were Boeing, FLIR, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney who were organized by Kallman Worldwide in collaboration with government agencies including the departments of Commerce, Defense and State. “The growth of the show and the expansion of military and commercial aerospace infrastructure in Morocco says a lot about the long-term opportunities for our exhibitors here,” said Kallman Worldwide CEO, Tom Kallman.

Not Just an Air Show

In reality, The International Marrakech Air Show is much more than just an air show. It’s an invaluable business and networking occasion for a variety of entities. This year saw exhibitors specializing in fields such as aircraft construction, satellite systems, avionics and onboard components, propulsions engineering, weapons systems, land defense armaments and many more. Senior government representatives from forty countries came to rub shoulders with specialist firms, legislators and aeronautics giants.

In the aeronautics sphere, Morocco has become the strategic gateway between Africa and the rest of the world. Commercial air travel is becoming increasingly more viable and popular for African citizens; authorities and private enterprises are both maneuvering to meet this demand. Additionally, African governments are increasingly looking to invest in defense capabilities and associated infrastructure. Big business opportunities beckon and the Marrakech Air Show is designed to facilitate the process.

In recent years, the Moroccan aeronautics sector has seen rapid growth of between 15-20% per annum. Firms such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Airbus, Bombardier and a host of others now maintain a permanent presence within Morocco’s borders. In total, more than 120 world class aeronautics organizations now operate in the country. The success of the airshow has helped demonstrate to businesses that Morocco is the premier platform from which to service new markets in the region.

Ultimately, The International Marrakech Airshow 2016 was as a resounding success. The event delivered on two fronts, firstly as a thrilling spectacle of modern aviation, and secondly as a vehicle by which business and aeronautics can flourish, bringing benefits not just to Morocco but to the entire continent.

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Tourism in Morocco down amid regional unrest

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Casablanca Morocco tourism

While the North African nation is considered safe, instability in neighboring countries prompts decline in foreign visitors.

As regional unrest results in declines in tourist visits by Europeans, Morocco is attempting to attract more visitors from Russia, China and West Africa.

A visit by Moroccan King Mohammad VI to Moscow in March underscored the North African nation’s strategy of attracting tourists from outside European nations that have traditionally been major sources of visitors.

The Ministry of Tourism of Morocco is also in talks with airlines to open direct flights to that country from Russia and China.

Safety fears groundless

Tourism minister Lahcen Haddad said Morocco has lost tourists because of unwarranted fears about safety prompted by continuing unrest in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt as well as recent attacks by terrorists in Turkey.

“Morocco remains a very safe and secure country,” Haddad said. “But we need to do more to get that message across.”

A 2015 report by the Overseas Security Council also declared all areas of Morocco safe for tourists, citing mostly minor thefts as the main risk.

Tourist visits down 1 percent

The country’s tourism industry got a wakeup call in 2015, when total tourism revenues and tourist visits declined after a decade of growth.

According to the Treasury and External Finance agency, tourist revenue to hotels and restaurants declined by 1.3 percent during the first three quarters of 2015, following an increase of 3.3 percent a year earlier.

The agency said tourist arrivals at Moroccan border posts also declined by 1 percent in 2015 while these arrivals had increased by 2.4 percent to more than 10 million in 2014.

French visits drop by 7 percent

The largest decline has been among the French, who constitute Morocco’s largest source of tourism. French tourism to Morocco declined by 7 percent in 2015. The nation also saw declines in visitors from Spain, Italy and Belgium, while arrivals from the United Kingdom and the United States increased, according to the tourism ministry.

Tourism revenue in 2015 totaled about $6 billion, still a significant share of Morocco’s $100 billion economy. The sector employs about 400,000 people.

Like other countries in the region, Morocco experienced significant growth in its tourism industry between 2001 and 2011, according to Eurostat. The Arab Spring began in Tunisia in 2010 and spread to Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain the following year, prompting varying degrees of unrest and instability that persists in some countries today.

Other countries see steep declines

Morocco has not fared as badly as some other countries in the region.

Egypt more than tripled the number of visitors to 14.7 million in 2010, only to see tourism drop by one third. Jordan, while stable, saw tourism fall by 17 percent in 2010 and 2011.

Turkey, hit by terrorist attacks, also experienced steep declines in tourism, which accounts for 15 percent of its gross domestic product.

As Europeans stay away, Morocco is pinning its hopes to expand the tourism sector on visitors from Russia, West Africa and China.

King Mohammad visits Moscow

King Mohammad visits Moscow

King visits Moscow

In March, a visit to Moscow by King Mohammad VI’s included talks about ways to encourage more Russians to visit Morocco as well as talks about providing direct flights to the North African country from St. Petersburg and Moscow.

In his first visit to Russia since 2002, the Moroccan king met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss bilateral cooperation in tourism, agriculture and energy. The two countries signed 12 agreements related to tourism.

The king also inaugurated an exhibition “Morocco-Russia: A shared ancient history,” which includes bronze objects from ancient Roman sites as well as Roman statues at Moscow’s Pushkin Museum.

Goal is 200,000 Russian visitors each year

Haddad, the Moroccan tourism minister, said the nation hopes to increase the number of Russian tourists five-fold, from 40,000 annually in 2015 to 200,000 by 2019.

“Russia offers us a big opportunity,” he said.

Haddad said talks are under way with Royal Air Maroc and Russia’s Aeroflot about opening new routes between Marrakesh and Agadir in Morocco and Moscow and St. Petersburg.

A 2014 plan to add direct flights between Morocco and China has not been implemented.

Morocco is hub for West African travelers

Meanwhile, Haddad said Morocco is a top hub for West Africans traveling to Europe or other countries in Africa.

Haddad said Morocco could attract as many as 160,000 visitors from West Africa if it can entice transit travelers to stay a few nights in Casablanca and visit attractions such as the medina and Hassan II mosque.

Morocco’s tourism industry is expected to get a boost later this year with more than 30,000 attendees at COP22, the 2015 global climate conference November 7 – 18 in Marrakesh.

Morocco has also started talks with European carriers about offering low-cost flights to Moroccan tourist destinations such as Ouarzazate and Errachidia, Haddad said.

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APM Terminals to operate new automated port in Morocco’s Tangier

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, Middle East

Apm terminals

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – The world’s third largest port operator APM Terminals said it will invest 758 million euros ($858.3 million) in a new transhipment terminal in Tangier, Morocco, that will be the first automated terminal in Africa.

The new container terminal will have an annual capacity of five million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU), and APM Terminals has the right to operate the port for 30 years.

APM Terminals, a unit of Denmark’s shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk, is currently operating a port facility in Tangier that handled 1.7 million TEUs in 2015.

A.P. Moller-Maersk also controls the world’s largest container shipping company, Maersk Line and it has committed to use the new facilities.

“At a time when the container shipping industry is in crisis due to low global growth and too many vessels for too few goods to move it is important we are able to invest in bigger and more effective port facilities,” Chief Executive Kim Fejfer from APM Terminals said.

Tangier is the second-busiest container port on the African continent after Port Said, Egypt and the location of Tangier provides a natural transhipment location for containers carrying anything from flat-screen televisions to sportswear from Asia to Europe and Africa.

APM Terminals also see high growth in Africa will demand more and better infrastructure on the continent.

“Significant investment in port and transportation infrastructure will be required to meet the anticipated needs of the expanding African population and corresponding economic growth,” it said.

APM Terminals is the largest port operator in Africa with 12 facilities operational in 10 countries.


(Reporting by Ole Mikkelsen, editing by David Evans)

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Russia and Morocco Strengthen Ties

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morocco russia

New strategic agreements between Morocco and Russia

Russia and Morocco are known for their mutual respect concerning diplomacy and economic issues since the late 18th century. The Sultan of Morocco, Mohammed III, and Russian Empress Catherine II exchanged letters in areas of mutual interest, including establishment of commercial ties, and allowing Russian boats to have access to Moroccan shores for fishing. Mohammed III then invited a Russian representative to come to Morocco for further talks.

The relationship between Russia and Morocco underwent an evolution in the 19th century, and Russia established a Consulate in Tangiers in 1897. The Russian diplomat Vasily Romanovich Bakherakht arrived in Morocco in May of 1898. Morocco became the first Arab country that Russia established diplomatic ties with, and remained so until the October Revolution.

In November of 1955, the Kingdom of Morocco became an independent state, and the Soviet Union recognized its independence in July of 1956. Diplomatic ties were re-established in September of 1961. Since that time, the connection between Russia and Morocco has been robust, in spite of many economic and political changes that both countries have experienced in the 20th and 21st centuries.

An increasingly strategic alliance between Morocco and Russia

In the past five to ten years, there have been significant indications leading to increasingly close ties and cooperation between Russia and the Kingdom of Morocco. Their international involvement with the global community has experienced uncertainty echoed in circumstances and events affecting both countries. Economic sanctions placed on Russia and the evolution of debate over the Moroccan Sahara are other factors explaining the increasingly strategic alliance between Morocco and Russia.

Morocco’s stronger inclinations towards relations with Russia have often been pointed out by government officials, either through direct meetings or official statements. In several speeches, King Mohamed VI has officially declared the intentions of Morocco to strengthen cooperation with Russia in trade, tourism, and investment. On July 30, 2014, the 15th anniversary of Mohamed VI’s coronation, the Monarch announced his country’s commitment to advancing stronger bonds with Russia. King Mohamed VI

On Tuesday, March 15th, 2016, King Mohamed VI met with Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin and signed six binding agreements and several memorandums, framework agreements, and protocols that deepen ties between the two countries.

The agreements cover:

– Extradition between Morocco and Russia.

– Air services between the countries.

– Cooperation covering environmental protections and use of natural resources.

– Cooperation on sea fisheries.

– The promotion and reciprocal protection of investments.

– A mutual protection of classified information on military and military-technical matters.

– A Moroccan-Russian declaration on the fight against international terrorism.

The memorandums, framework agreements, and protocols cover an understanding on:

–  Cooperation in the field of energy.

–  Cooperation in geological research and exploration of the subsoil.

–  An understanding between the National Health Security Office of foodstuffs (ONSSA) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Maritime Fishing (Morocco) and the Federal Agency for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Federation Russia) plant health of plants and plant products.

– Joint action programs for 2016-2018 in the field of tourism.

– Cooperation between the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Central Religious Organization (Shura Council of Muftis of Russia).

– A framework partnership agreement with the National Foundation of Museums and the Museums of the Moscow Kremlin.

– And a protocol for the exchange of information on moving goods and vehicles between Morocco and Russia.

The two countries also stressed the need to strengthen global cooperation combating international terrorism and violent extremism.

The two country’s Declaration on their deeper strategic partnership also called for strengthening the central role of the United Nations in its fight against global terrorism, transnational organized crime, criminal corruption, and other challenges.

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Morocco Jan-Feb trade deficit rises 10.1%

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, Middle East

RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco’s trade deficit rose 10.1 percent to 21.16 billion dirhams ($2.17 billion) in the first two months of 2016 compared with a year earlier, due to higher imports, the foreign exchange regulator said on Wednesday.

The trade gap was up from 19.23 billion dirhams at the end of February 2015, as equipment imports rose 14.4 percent to 15 billion dirhams, data showed. Wheat imports jumped 44.2 percent from a year earlier to 2.35 billion dirhams as harsh weather hit the local harvest this year.

It is the first time the deficit has risen in more than 18 months as the North African kingdom has been taking advantage of lower energy prices. Morocco is a net energy importer.

Energy imports fell 21.1 percent to 7.1 billion dirhams, it said.

Total exports rose 1.2 percent from a year earlier to 36.3 billion dirhams, led by an 10 percent rise in auto exports. Phosphate sales fell 8.3 percent to 5 billion dirhams.

Tourism receipts rise slightly by 1.1 percent, while remittances from the 4.5 million Moroccans living abroad were flat at 9.4 billion dirhams. Foreign direct investment rose 6.2 percent to 5.36 billion dirhams.


Figures are in billions of dirhams:


Jan-Fev Jan-Fev Jan

2016 2015 2016


EXPORTS 36.29 35.85 18.32

IMPORTS 57.45 55.08 25.68

BALANCE -21.16 -19.23 -7.36


REMITTANCES 9.39 9.39 4.86


RECEIPTS 7.47 7.39 3.79


INVESTMENT 5.36 5.05 2.13


($1 = 9.7652 Moroccan dirham)


(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Toby Chopra)


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Morocco prepares to host global climate change conference

Comments (0) Africa, Featured, Politics


More than 30,000 people are expected to attend the COP22 gathering in Marrakesh in November.

Morocco has begun preparations for COP22, the 2015 global climate conference, where African nations hope to see further action to help mitigate damage from climate change.

The event, expected to attract 30,000 attendees, will be held November 7 – 18 in Marrakech. Morocco recently appointed a committee, headed by Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, to guide logistical preparations.

The conference follows COP21 last November in Paris, where 195 participating countries produced a landmark agreement to reduce carbon emissions.

Repairing damage will be key issue

The upcoming conference is expected to focus on an issue of great importance to many African nations: Mitigation of damage already done by climate change and help adapting to a new environment.

Speaking at a recent “From COP21 to COP22” conference in Geneva, Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said the next conference must drive mitigation efforts.

Following the Paris agreement, Clark said, agencies and governments must “scale up” initiatives to repair or reduce damage and help countries adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Clark said her agency would facilitate access to financial and technical resources along with other major global actors.

From decision to action

She said COP 22 in Morocco marks a transition from the consensus building and decision-making of Paris to a “COP of Action.”

Clark said that in addition to supporting development to reduce emissions, her agency will work with more than 100 countries to finance mitigation measures as well as strengthening disaster management work and linking it to climate change damage.

While Africa is the least polluting continent on the planet, it has suffered some of climate change’s most severe effects.

At the climate conference in Paris, African leaders emphasized the need for financial help to address losses in their countries.

Drought, flooding, erosion hit Africa

Southern Africa, including Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa has been hard hit by drought as have Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia in the Horn of Africa.

Drought has nearly emptied the Kariba Dam reservoir on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border, forcing power shortages and energy rationing.

At the same time, heavy rains, landslides and flooding have hit Burundi, Nigeria and Malawi.

In tiny Zanzibar, the rise of sea levels is salinizing the soil, making farming impossible. Zanzibaris have also seen rising temperatures, floods and increased sea waves.

Coastal erosion is emerging as a major threat in West Africa, where large shares of gross domestic products are associated with the sea, including fishing and tourism.

Financial help to mitigate damages and help countries adapt to a new and changing environment are expected to take center state at the Marrakech conference.

Morocco has ambitious plans to reduce emissions

Morocco hopes hosting the conference will also shine an international spotlight on its ambitious efforts to reduce its own reliance on greenhouse gas emissions with its pledge to reduce them by one third percent by 2030.

Morocco plans to increase the share of renewable energy to 42 percent by 2020 and to 52 percent by 2030. The country recently opened what is believed to be the world’s largest solar power plant near the city of Ouarzazate, about 120 miles southeast of Marrakech

As preparations get under way, organizers have begun holding workshops to educate tour and hotel operators and discuss logistics in the city of about 1 million population is Morocco’s most popular tourist destination, known for its colorful markets. Marrakech hosted COP7 in 2001.

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