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Morocco and China share Africa vision

By Said Ibrahimi (China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-12 08:28

The ever-closer partnership between the two countries reflects mutual continental ambitions

During the last decade, China and Morocco have shared a common conviction in their approach towards Africa. Both countries have placed the continent at the core of their economic development strategies and both have heavily invested on the economic and social levels.

Trade between Morocco and China has grown rapidly; but, more importantly, that trade has evolved in nature.

While still imbalanced, the structure of imports and exports tells us a lot about the vigorous economic relationship at work and is a great indication of the potential that lies ahead.

One might think that Morocco's exports to China consist mainly of raw materials, but a closer examination shows a different picture: 28 percent of the $530 million of goods we exported in 2014 were integrated circuits, and around 10 percent were garments.

Our imports from China, totaling $3.5 billion, are very diversified, and range from electronic equipment to tea, which is still the first imported good from China (5.4 percent).

All of this is very important, but it only tells half the story.

At continental level, Morocco and China are on the path of building a trilateral relationship aiming at giving more market depth to both partners.

Last November, the Moroccan city of Marrakech hosted the first Sino-African Business Summit, at which more than 500 participants discussed how this partnership could be strengthened and how we should together tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

For the first time, business communities from China, Morocco - and the rest of Africa - engaged in an open dialogue that helped create opportunities and lift some of the possible misconceptions about China's economic agenda in the region.

Experts who participated in this important event agreed that Morocco and China would create more value by working together than by pursuing their own individual paths, especially in the greater northwestern part of Africa. The reasons for this are simple: our economic strategies in the region complement one another, and there are more areas in which it is in our best interest to cooperate rather than compete.

In addition, analysts are increasingly convinced that Morocco gives China the best platform when it comes to setting up industrial investments to reach the 400 million French-speaking consumers of West Africa.

Morocco's institutional and macroeconomic stability make it an ideal location for long-term investments, and its strong regulatory framework contributes to the country's business-friendly environment.

A common ambition

Most of all, Morocco shares a common ambition with China, which is to become a strategic partner in Africa's development by helping create a strong, resilient consumer-based market. To that end, Morocco included a specific initiative within its 2014 plan for industrial acceleration, which will provide Chinese companies with dedicated industrial zones where they can establish complete ecosystems in order to boost their productivity and increase their export capabilities in the area.

Furthermore, Morocco established Casablanca Finance City in 2010, a pan-African financial center that has rapidly become the leading financial center in Africa, ranking first in the latest Global Financial Centers Index (GFCI).

Casablanca Finance City provides both status and a comprehensive fiscal package to financial institutions and the regional headquarters of multinational corporations aiming at developing their businesses and investments in Africa.

To date, more than 100 multinational corporations have acquired the CFC status, including information and communication technology solution provider Huawei, insurer AIG, carmaker Ford, the Boston Consulting Group, investment fund Abraaj and BNP Paribas.

Two months ago, we had the pleasure of welcoming Bank of China to CFC. For us, this was a clear signal that the strategic and economic partnership between China and Morocco is reaching a new dimension, which we hope to intensify over the coming years.

The writer is the CEO of Casablanca Finance City Authority. For more information about CFC, please visit Casablancafinancecity.com, as well as its Twitter and LinkedIn pages for latest updates. Twitter : @casafinancecity LinkedIn: Casablanca Finance City

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