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Friday, 05 September 2014 19:00

Morocco - a promising region's exporting hub - Hassan Hami, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Morocco Featured

Caspian Energy (CE): Your Excellency, how do you evaluate economic opportunities of cooperation of

Azerbaijan and other countries of the region with Morocco?

Hassan Hami, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Morocco: Get ready: there are a lot of opportunities. Let me share with you the following: the Moroccan economic model combines liberalism, openness and structural reform, which enables the country to show resilience in a dire internal and international context. The growth in 2013 is estimated to have been at 4,6% thanks to the consolidation of the internal demand. The average growth over the last five years is about 5%. Morocco is located at the crossroads of the main trade routes linking Africa, Europe, Middle East and America. This position makes Morocco a promising region's exporting hub.

Therefore, Morocco is not only a land of potential recipient of investments, it is also, a platform to reach out other neighboring regions. Morocco plays a significant role in the South-South cooperation. With respect to Africa, for example, Morocco is doing a good job. His Majesty King Mohammed VI paid several official visits to Africa over the last twelve years. Cooperation is based on the win-win concept. Moroccan corporations are investing in countries such as Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Ghana, Niger to name but a few. A free trade area is planned between Morocco and some among these countries. By the same token Morocco is the only country outside Europe that enjoys an advanced status with the European Union. Morocco witnessed the inception of the World Trade Orgnaization (WTO) in Marrakechin 1994.

Indeed Morocco is integrated into the international economy. Azerbaijan and other countries in the region such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Kighizistan or Turkmenistan might be granted privileges in investing in Morocco, and likewise, Morocco would be doing the same at request.

 

CE: In which sectors of economy is there a big potential for cooperation?

Hassan Hami: Agriculture, agro-business, seafood processing, tourism, energy, real state, mine, industry, banking, insurance, telecommunication, fisheries, off-shoring, near-shoring, textile, pharmaceutical industries, handicrafts etc., are sectors for potential cooperation. But also other sectors such as emergency situations, health, education, culture, which produce wealth and improve people's well-being. Furthermore, Morocco may promote Azerbaijan in Africa through triangular cooperation. I know that Azerbaijan is targeting a few sub-Saharan African countries. Morocco, as an African country, may help out getting Azerbaijan to know better the Continent

 

 

CE: To what extent did Morocco manage to build mutual relationship with EU countries?

Hassan Hami: Cooperation between Morocco and the European Union goes back to 1963. Morocco requested the two sides started negotiations in order to establish relations based on mutual respect and shared values. A trade Agreement was signed in 1969. A new Agreement was signed in 1976, which included trade arrangements and financial participation dedicated to the development of Morocco, mainly in the social-economic fields. To enhance their cooperation, the two sides signed (1976-1996), four financial protocols. Then two programs called NEDA I and MEDA II (1996-2006), as parts of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership increased the financial aid dedicated to Morocco with the aim of sustaining the economic transition, boosting jobs and growth and reducing poverty. This made Morocco the main recipient of the European Union's assistance among all European Union's partners. This status has not been altered so far, neither within the framework of the Association Agreement entered into force in 2000 nor within the Neighborhood Policy in 2003. The Action Plan between Morocco and the European Union is inspired by the mutual commitment to promote common values such as human rights, rule of law, good governance, economy market or sustainable development.

The commitment of Morocco to fulfill the above-mentioned values has proven to be genuine, so that in 2008 Morocco became the first country in the southern Mediterranean region to be granted an Advanced Status. This new privileged status translates the willingness of both parties to strengthen the political dialogue, the cooperation in the economic, social, parliamentary, judicial, and security fields as well as in the agriculture, transportation, energy and environment to name but a few.

 

CE: Which economic risks do you see in view of the current situation in the Near East?

Hassan Hami: Before even the Arab Spring, Morocco has been considered as a safe country bringing very good conditions of investment. You may refer to statements made by foreign investors as well as by the international financial institutions. Morocco is a stable and secure country. Morocco is aware that achieving peace and stability is a long process. It requires good insight, wisdom and compromise from political, economic and social actors.

Yet actors ought to show faith in their country while defending their ideas. Democracy ought to be based on common ground. Morocco has been able to reform its political, economic and social system, because decisions are made following debates and regular consultations. This enshrines the principle of participation in the decision-making system.

Over the last forty years Morocco has been experiencing changes. The political system is adapting with these changes. The speed of reforms has increased since 1999. Morocco is reforming because the society is evolving and the system has to meet people's expectation. Morocco surprises foreign observers, because the leadership takes very bold and courageous decisions. This is the case with respect to the family code, the reform of the political field, the reform of penal code, the adoption of the regionalization policy, and, lately, the reform of the military court of justice. His Majesty King Mohammed VI launched in 2005 the National Human Development Initiative aimed at narrowing the gap of development between regions and giving opportunities to people to evolve and take care of themselves accordingly. The achievements are very promising. Yet Morocco keeps on improving its democratic process. Morocco lectures nobody on democracy. Indeed if political systems have to introduce democracy -because it is right and inevitable- democracy, also, has to adapt to political culture of every society in a process of interaction and not of exclusion. The political transition should not be a race. It should be a true belief that it brings stability, security and well-being to people engaged in the community with the same faith and the same aspiration of doing the best they could. This is why the risks in Morocco are minimal if not null.

 

CE: What is demand for energy resources in Morocco? What are the sources supplying energy resources to the country? To what degree has Morocco managed to succeed in developing the renewable and nuclear sectors?

Hassan Hami: Like many emerging economy market, Morocco needs energy. Morocco imports oil and gas (about 94%) to sustain its development and meet people's expectation. Yet Morocco is hoping to reduce its dependency on hydrocarbons through renewable and there is a challenging target of 42% electricity through renewable by 2020. Morocco is developing the solar and the wind energy under partnership with private sector and international community, the industries, and financial sector. When respect to solar projects, for example, the decision was made in late 2010, and the construction of the first project, 160 megawatts, started, accordingly. The process for the next two projects has been lunched later. The idea is to have a big park of 500 megawatts in this first place and to continue developing other places in order to achieve the 2,000 megawatt by 2020.

On hydrocarbons, Morocco is conducting a big program of exploration for conventional oil and gas with more than thirty companies working in the sedimentary basins of Morocco. At the same time, Morocco started the first phase of exploration for shale gas. An evaluation is expected in the next years, hopefully.

Besides, Morocco has recorded great success with its rural electrification by bringing 98 percent of rural electrification in the last twenty years. It can be a model for other areas. So, the Morocco's strategy with respect to reducing its energy dependency is improving and even inspiring.

Morocco is endeavoring to secure its supply by a diversified mix with the new coal plant, with the development of our renewable energies like solar and the development also of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector and development of gas.

To sum up Morocco has dedicated almost $25 billion of investment for the energy development up to 2020 in the solar and wind energy, but also for a future LNG plant on the Atlantic Coast. The opportunities are here and investors are very welcome to take part in these projects. With respect to Azerbaijan, SOCAR or other special agencies are very welcome to take part in these projects. Morocco is a country of promises when it comes to investment in the energy sector.

Guess what? Morocco has a better objective, which is also to export energy, and mainly the renewable energy, to Europe in the next coming years thanks to the interconnection existing with Europe through Spain.

 

CE: What are the possibilities of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Morocco within the

framework of big economic organizations?

Hassan Hami: Morocco and Azerbaijan enjoy excellent relationships thanks to the wise leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and His Excellency President Ilham Aliyev. Morocco is willing to share its experience with Azerbaijan with respect to negotiations between Baku and the World Trade Organization. It is ready also to assist, to some extent, with respect to the relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union...

 

 

CE: What could you tell about investment opportunities of Morocco and prospects of making

mutual investments?

Hassan Hami: Morocco has signed about one hundred conventions with foreign countries pertaining to non double taxation and to the promotion and the protection of investment. Many privileges and tax exemptions are granted to foreign investors. The Foreign Direct Investments accounted for $ 2.9 billions US in 2012, and they are estimated at more than $4 billions US in 2013. This makes Morocco the second country attracting investments in Africa after South Africa. The inflation is maintained bellow 2% and the unemployment is decreasing (8.9%). Besides, Morocco has become a genuine emerging financial market.

The confidence in Morocco goes growing. Suffice it to mention that the Financial City of London (the City-UK) and the Moroccan Financial Board (Morocco Finaicial City) signed in 2012 a Partnership Agreement to consolidate their cooperation. Thus Casablanca joined Dubai, Moscow and Toronto as a new partner of the City-UK. In June 2014, three agreements were signed between London Stock Excange Groupe (LSEG) and Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE). This by all means is a recognition of the CFC as a hub for financial and professional services. The main objective is to ease access to African markets for international investors not only in Morocco, but also in North, West and Central Africa.

Furthermore in November 2014, Morocco will host the next Global Entrepreneurship Summit, making it the first African country to have this privilege. This event illustrates confidence in Morocco as a leading country promoting the entrepreneurship and exhanges between international entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Good places for investments to suggest? I may mention Tanger Free Zone, Tanger Automative City, Nouasser Aerospace City, to name but a few.

 

CE: What are the transportation capacities of the Gibraltarian strait?

Hassan Hami: In terms of transportation, Morocco is among the leading countries in Africa. In 2015, the motorway is expected to reach 1800 km, making it the second largest in Africa. The railway network accounts for 2120 km. By 2015-2017, Morocco will be the first country in Africa to develop the high-speed line (TGV), about 1000 km, starting with Tanger-Casablanca, and later, extending to other cities by 2035. Morocco has 15 international airports, with Casablanca, the biggest, but also in other cities like Marrakech, Tanger, Agadir, Laayoune etc... And of course Morocco has two big harbors in Casablanca and Tangier. Tanger-Med, to answer your question, is accredited of being in 17th position in the world and the 1st in Africa. It has been among the most performing in the Mediterranean over the last three years. This makes trade with Europe very fluid and fast.

 

Thank you for the interview

 

 

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