Two years after the signing of the normalization agreement between Israel and Morocco, Minister of Economy and Industry Orna Barbivai has announced a further substantial step in the warming of relations between the two countries: the opening of an economic attaché’s office in Morocco in 2023. Speaking at the Morocco Israel Business Conference, Barbivai said, “The connection with Morocco seems the most natural thing in the world. There’s a mutual will to promote effective economic processes. The Abraham Accords testify to the fact that Israel is open to peace with whoever wishes it, and the economic opportunities are extraordinary. Morocco is just the beginning, and the potential is huge. This is a substantial diplomatic interest, and so we have decided to open an economic attaché’s office in Morocco in 2023 to promote trade and investment between the two countries.”
Barbivai added: “Thanks to trade and investment agreements in the past year, exports and imports were exceptionally high, a fact that has a direct effect on the state of Israel’s economic strength.”
The prospective opening of an economic attaché’s office shows that Israel sees in its new diplomatic ties with Morocco very substantial commercial and economic potential. The attaché’s office is meant to realize the potential both of the ties with Morocco itself and of its trade agreements with Europe and with African countries.
Access to 2.5 billion consumers
Moroccan ambassador to Israel Abderrahim Beyyoudh said at the conference, “Morocco’s strategic location between Europe and Africa, as a free democratic and economic system, with a dynamic domestic market, makes it one of the leading countries in the African economy. Infrastructure construction, rising GDP, and control over inflation, are some of the factors that make Morocco a desirable destination for doing business in ideal conditions.
“Morocco has signed free trade agreements with many countries, including the US and African countries, and offers companies based in Morocco access to 2.5 billion consumers,” the ambassador continued. “Morocco has a clear competitive advantage, making it an excellent place for Israeli companies to grow. We have a commitment to strengthening and improving our business relations with Israel, and we intend to allow you convenient access to the private sector in Morocco.”
Israel Export Institute chairperson Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin added, “The times we are living in make it obligatory to develop opportunities not just regionally but at the level of the countries of the whole of the Mediterranean. With what is happening around the world and in particular in Europe, the more we succeed in connecting the economy of the East Mediterranean – Israel, Greece, Egypt, and Turkey – with the economy of the West Mediterranean – Morocco – the more we will create an economy that is relevant and appropriate for the region, for hundreds of millions of people. I hope that, further to the Negev Summit, the governments concerned will soon manage to arrange an economic Negev Summit that will include the Mediterranean countries. The opportunities are many, and they can be exploited via the creation of a new bloc on the world stage, the Mediterranean bloc.”
“Africa is becoming the new global center”
In another session, that dealt with Morocco as a gateway to business in other countries on the African continent, Lamia Merzouki, deputy general manager at the Casablanca Finance City Authority, said, “Africa is becoming the new global center. Morocco enjoys political stability and macro-economic stability, thanks to its longstanding monarchy. For example, the inflation rate in Morocco has been less than 2% in the past two decades. As far as infrastructure is concerned, Morocco has constructed the fastest continental railway in African history, and has seen to it that there is access to transport throughout the country.”
Yasmina Lahlou head of Israel Coverage at the Bank of Africa talked about the function of the banking system in Morocco. “We can help Israeli companies to open a bank account and to finance projects, and we can connect them to our customers for partnerships,” she said. “We have support for all the major banks in Israel – Leumi, Hapoalim, Discount and others – and since the Abraham Accords we have maintained very strong ties with them. The African market is decentralized, and so we have eighteen banks. In addition, conditions within Africa vary, and doing business in West Africa is not the same as doing business in Central Africa. For any company that comes to Africa and is not familiar with the market, it’s important that it should have local support.”
The conference was organized by the Firon-UGGC partnership of Israeli law firm M. Firon & Co. and Parisian law firm UGGC Avocats.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on September 7, 2022.
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.