Salaheddine Mezouar (R), the minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, speaks at a press conference on May 12 in Beijing. [Photo by Chen Yingqun /chinadaily.com.cn]
"Morocco wants to speed up economic cooperation with China, and it can be a platform for Chinese companies entering Europe and West Africa," says Salaheddine Mezouar, the minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco in Beijng.
Mezouar was accompanying Moroccan King Mohammed VI during a three-day state visit to China from May 11 to 13. During the trip, Morocco and China agreed on the establishment of a strategic partnership and also signed 14 agreements between the two governments and 15 non-government deals.
"Morocco has kept close relationship with West Africa in history, culture and religion, so after we signed this strategic partnership, Morocco would play a key role in the bilateral relationship between China , Morocco and West Africa," says Mezouar.
Morocco has a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union and the United States, so Chinese companies could use Morocco as platforms for entering Europe and the West Africa, while developing the Morocco market, he said.
"While maintaining the relationship with our traditional partners such as Europe and the US, we would also like to diversify our partners. The relationship with China is very important for us," says Mezouar, adding that the strategic partnership will accelerate future cooperation.
"King Mohammed VI will see to it in person that all the projects signed will be carried out."
Beginning June 1, Chinese tourists visiting Morocco will be able to do so visa-free. The deals signed during the visit cover a wide range of areas such as infrastructure, new energy, culture, education, tourism, and finance.
Mezouar says that Morocco will bring in China's high-speed railway technology, and will co-construct a 300-km long high-speed railway in the southwest part of the country from Marrakech to Agadir.
"Both countries have done a lot of research and evaluation about this project and will start preparation for the construction later," says Mezouar.
"Meanwhile, Morocco is also working on the construction of railways that runs from Morocco to West African countries. China and Morocco could work on these projects through various ways, such as transfer of technology, training of talent and joint investment.
"Moreover, Morocco would specially establish a 10 square kilometers industrial zone in the Tangier port in the north Morocco, which is only about 15 miles from Europe, so companies in the industrial zone will be able to send its products to any place in Europe. He says that they welcome Chinese companies, especially who are in automobile, textile and astronautics sectors.
While talking about industrial capacity cooperation, Mezouar says that he hope China would make efforts to help push forward Africa's industrialization process.
"We don't want to only produce raw materials, we are trying to make more added values to our product, and we hope China could help us go through the industrial process through investment, and talent training," Mezouar says.