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Morocco-United States: place for business!

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not come to Morocco last March as a purely political tourist or diplomat. It is true that the latter reiterated the position of the United States in favor of the Moroccan initiative for the autonomy of the southern provinces under Moroccan sovereignty. Now is the time to strengthen economic cooperation, and its vast “field of possibilities.” This is the opinion of three experts..

By Olivier DELAGARDE

First and not least, in this period of national concern over the thorny issue of water supply, the Moroccan kingdom should benefit from American technologies, particularly in terms of desalination of seawater to meet the needs of various regions. This is specified by the Moroccan Association of Exporters (ASMEX) in a recent press release. The beginnings of an imminent transition from flashy diplomatic receptions to concrete action.

Its president, Hassan Sentissi El Idrissi, proposed, in the process, the creation of a mixed shipping company aimed at intensifying trade, as well as developing the free trade agreement signed between the countries.

In addition, during a recent meeting in Casablanca, and as part of the promotion of the Investment Summit “Select USA 2022”, the Consul General of the United States Lawrence M. Randolph and his collaborators, emphasized the opportunities that the United States intends to provide investors from different states with the starry banner on Cherifian soil.

Obviously, Moroccan operators are already on the starting grid for the celebration of this annual event. This summit, scheduled for June 26-29, 2022 in Washington, will welcome participants from both sides of the Atlantic with a clear objective: to generate business in all areas.

The solar, wind, maritime and gas potential of the waters of southern Morocco are interests and resources that are still too untapped, since the Moroccan Sahara area has long been a tinderbox. Too long and while the kingdom’s economy seeks a new lease on life.

After the short sequence of now symbolic political files, it’s time to act in the pure line of old Uncle Sam: business.

*Nabil Adel: “After the American recognition of the Moroccan character of the Sahara, now the emphasis is on the development of economic relations”

« After the American recognition of the Moroccan nature of the Sahara, we can say today that this file is sealed. What’s going on now, let’s say, is managing what’s left of this file. And furthermore, we see that many countries join the American position, such as Germany and Spain. “says the economist Nabil Adel. Now go on emphasis will be placed on economic development, particularly in the southern provinces. We will try to make it a lever for development like certain countries or emirates in the Gulf, such as Qatar or Dubai. Thus, the will today is to make these southern provinces, once this artificial conflict has been definitively closed, a locomotive for the economic development of the Kingdom. ».

Thus, and according to Nabil Adel, this visit by Antony Blinken tends to give a boost to commercial cooperation between Morocco and the United States. ” We signed a free trade agreement in 2004, but its benefits are still below what we can get from it. he points out. Morocco plays a role in stabilizing and developing foreign investment in the region and I think the pace will pick up in the coming years. ».

It is above all about promoting the free trade agreement with the United States so that it becomes a true spearhead of the economic development of the Kingdom, says the economist. To convince himself of this, he adds: Just take the example of Mexico compared to the United States, where the US market has been a real lever for the country’s development. This same US market has been an extraordinary lever for the development of the Chinese economy. Therefore, Morocco must seize this opportunity and try to strengthen its collaboration with the United States. ».

However, and on a kind of tightrope, the kingdom of Cherifian must maintain its committed alliances with other great economic powers and world financial centers such as China or Russia, being careful not to remain on neutral ground where we come to do business, without taking on the side of one partner to the detriment of the other.

**Taïb Aisse: “Efforts are still necessary to make the most of the FTA with the United States”

Although he emphasizes the strategic dimension that relations between the Moroccan kingdom and the United States have always maintained, the financial expert Taïb Aisse believes that, in economic matters, there are still many opportunities to develop for each of the two countries.

Referring to the free trade agreement, the latter maintains that trade between Morocco and the United States has so far been more profitable for the US economy, and that there is great potential for rebalancing to the benefit of Morocco. ” Our exports to the United States are not subject to quotas and this is very important the economist rightly observes, also pointing out that Moroccan exporters must invest more to meet US standards, which, although complicated, remain affordable. ” Therefore, we must do more to capture market share for our products in this market, which is still the largest in the world. “, he adds.

In addition, in relation to the “Compact II” program concluded between the Moroccan and US governments, Taïb Aisse indicated that it would be convenient to renew this program (which will soon come to an end), since its objective is to finance projects of great social importance. such as the employability of young people or even the development of human capital.

***Azzedine Hanoune: “The government should initiate a dynamic in the coming weeks aimed at exploiting the real potential of relations with the world’s leading power”

« The context of this visit coming just after the Negev summit which accentuated Morocco’s status as a major player in the MENA region should not be ignored. Morocco is a key actor and not a good student, acting according to its own vision and its own interests. “, indicates the professor of public law at the Faculty of legal and political sciences of the Ibn Tofaïl University, Azzeddine Hanoune. This visit also takes place in the context of the war that is shaking Eastern Europe and that is creating a climate of tension that is affecting international relations. Finally, this visit comes a few days after the letter from the President of the Spanish Government addressed to King Mohammed VI and in which he announced a significant change in his country’s position on the Sahara issue, Azzedine Hanoune points out.

According to this last expert, this trip by the US Secretary of State to Rabat consolidates the achievements of the Kingdom. ” Mr. Antony Blinken, by reiterating US support for the Moroccan autonomy plan for the southern provinces, indirectly responded to adversaries’ accusations suggesting a retreat in US support. “, he says.

Thus, the declarations of good intentions could have a political and diplomatic character aimed at accommodating the other parties to protect US interests in the region. The timing of this visit is revealing of the alignment of the positions of the various international actors involved in the Sahara conflict. The Moroccan autonomy plan is becoming the leitmotif of the entire search for a solution and the personal envoy of the UN Secretary General cannot, nor should, ignore this fact, underlines the professor of public law.

Beyond the issue of the Kingdom’s territorial integrity, the visit by the Head of the State Department is, in Azzedine Hanoune’s opinion, an important step in the process of building trust between the two countries: cooperation and exchanges remain below potential. The meeting with the Head of Government is a strong political signal in this regard. ” In the coming weeks, the government should also initiate a dynamic aimed at exploiting the real potential of these relations with the world’s leading power. », supports Azzedine Hanoune.

* Nabil Adel is Director of the Geopolitics and Geoeconomics Research Group at ESCA-Ecole de Management. Consultant to various financial entities, investment funds and large companies, he is also a research professor in geopolitics, economics and finance.

** Taïb Aisse is a public accountant and founder of the AISSE firm, an expert in economics, finance and an audit specialist for more than 30 years.

*** Azzedine Hanoune is Professor of International Relations at Ibn Tofaïl University and Director of Studies at the Moroccan Center for Strategic Studies (CMES)

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