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Morocco turns cautiously towards Africa

Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 15 Nov 2012 13:04 GMT
Author: Dounia Mounadi
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CASABLANCA, November 2012 – Where there’s a will, there’s a way. That’s the case for Moroccan investors who, having come up against a saturated European market, are now turning their attention towards Africa.

Africa south of the Sahara is little-known to Moroccans and has even been seen as hostile territory for the first business adventurers to set out on the conquest of the south.

A series of success stories has now led to Africa being regarded as the new Eldorado for Moroccan investors. At the same time economic and political forces have been rallied in support. With a succession of export roadshows, official visits, inaugurations of development projects and signings of bilateral agreements it would appear that Africa has been tames.

All these efforts have led to Morocco becoming the second African investor on the continent, after South Africa, and the number one in West Africa. However, this position contrasts starkly with the low volume of trade between Morocco and Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the financial studies department of Morocco’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, trade flows tripled between 2000 and 2010, increasing from 3.6 billion dirhams to 11.7 billion  (1.3 billion dollars). But this remains well below Morocco’s trade with Europe. Its exports to African countries are dominated by low value-added items such as raw materials. Morocco’s expansion, it would seem, is hampered by poor management of promotion and export activities.

There is also a vacuum in the area of financial incentives. “Right now, no specific fiscal measure is on the agenda at the Tax Department,” said Mustapha Aman, the department’s regional director in Tangier.

“However, given the importance of the African market for the Moroccan economy, I think it will happen before long,” he said. Hopes are now turning towards the future, and Moroccan eyes towards Africa.

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