The moroccan press

Business Brief: Morocco and China Ink Pact to Build New City; Banking Sector Continues Strong Showing – Jean R. AbiNader

Morocco on the move - Fri, 03/24/2017 - 15:42

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
March 24, 2017

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

Building on King Mohammed VI’s 2016 trip to China, plans were announced for a major co-investment in an industrial city in the north of the kingdom that will provide jobs and development in the region. The Central Bank continued its conservative, and successful, management of interest rates as inflation, the national budget deficit, and the trade deficit are projected to rise slightly in 2017. Attijarawafa Bank was named African bank of the year by yet another business organization.

China Comes a Knocking. Repeating its formula for yet another successful foray into an African economy, China has agreed to form a joint enterprise with Morocco to develop an industrial and technology park, hosting hundreds of Chinese companies, to support manufacturing centers in the Tanger region. Chinese companies have previously been active in infrastructure projects such as the suspension bridge linking Rabat and Sale, among the largest of its kind in Africa. Of course, these parks also serve as zones for importing Chinese consumer electronics, textiles, parts, and housewares for sale in the local economy.

The principal partners are the Chinese aviation group Haite, BMCE’s Bank of Africa, and the government of Morocco represented by the Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima regional authorities. The initial agreement calls for $1B investment annually for 10 years. The city, called “The Mohammed VI Tanger Tech City,” represents a significant escalation in Moroccan-Chinese relations. It will cover 2,000 hectares (approximately 5,600 acres) with a target of 300,000 inhabitants and a workforce of 100,000 drawn from the surrounding area.

The signing of the MOU, presided over by the King, took place in the Marchane Royal Palace in Tanger with presentations made by Moulay Hafid elAlamy, the acting Minister of Trade, Investment, and the Digital Economy, and Li Biao, President of the Haite Group. Mr. Biao noted that “the park will host hundreds of Chinese companies in numerous industrial zones including auto manufacturing, aerospace, aviation spare parts, electronic information, textiles and machinery manufacturing.” Minister elAlamy pointed out that Tanger was selected by the Chinese as a “competitive platform” for its regional center for manufacturing and distribution of its products, and that work would start in the second half of 2017.

For its part, the government of Morocco will continue its economic development projects in the north, including the high speed train scheduled to begin service within the next year, expansion of the free trade zones around TangerMed Port, and additional excavation of the deepwater harbor facilities. Minister elAlamy said that these investments will attract hundreds of multinational companies in addition to the Chinese companies financing the industrial city.

Financial Indicators are Steady.  According to a report by NASDAQ, the Central Bank of Morocco, Bank Al-Maghrib, has positive economic projections for 2017, even as some indicators such as inflation and the balance of payments are slightly more negative. With a strong agricultural growing season, overall growth is pegged to increase by 4.3% and inflation will level off after a slight rise in the first quarter. Agriculture’s GDP contribution is expected to rise from 9.6% in 2016 to 15% this year. While this is good news for 2017, overall growth is expected to decline in 2018 as the price of phosphates remains low.

While inflation increased from 1.6% to 2.1% earlier this year, it is expected to drop to 1.1% later this year as the government is able to cut energy imports and subsidies and agricultural prices fall. The country’s budget deficit will reach 3.7% of GDP in 2017 before a slight decrease to 3.4% in 2018. Even though the trade deficit reached 18.2%, this still represents only 2.2% of GDP. Much of this is due to the decline in the price of phosphates, resulting in a 3.3% trade deficit. Overall, the news is good: the economy is steady and performing soundly resulting in controlled inflation, minimal increases in the trade deficit, and a more-than-manageable budget deficit.

Attijariwafa Bank continued its impressive role as a leading bank in Africa, garnering the “African Bank of the Year” award at the Africa CEO Forum. It is Africa’s fourth largest bank, operating in 24 countries with more than 7M clients and 16,000 employees. According to its website, the Forum provides a multinational platform for CEOs of African and international companies, financial specialists, investors, bankers, thought-leaders, and public sector leaders to exchange information and develop projects in Africa and internationally, and develop strategies to address the economic and industrial challenges facing the continent.

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Morocco, Longtime US Counterterrorism Ally, Attends Anti-ISIS Coalition Meeting in Washington

Morocco on the move - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 23:00

Washington, DC, March 23, 2017, Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) — Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s Minister Delegate of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, was in Washington yesterday for a meeting of the Ministers of the anti-ISIS Global Coalition, convened by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to “review and accelerate the campaign for the lasting defeat of ISIS.” Morocco was the first Maghreb country to join the coalition, and was designated a non-NATO ally by President George W. Bush in 2004.

“Together, we share a resolve to deal ISIS or Daesh a lasting defeat,” said Secretary Tillerson in his remarks. “Our coalition is united in stopping an ISIS resurgence, halting its global ambitions and discrediting its ideological narrative. And we’re ready to grow stronger and stay aggressive in this battle.”

Secretary Tillerson outlined four countermeasures to “stay ahead of” ISIS: persisting “with in-country counterterrorism and law enforcement operations”; “greater intelligence and information sharing within our own domestic intelligence agencies and among our nations”; combating “a warped interpretation of Islam”; and breaking “ISIS’s ability to spread its messages and recruit new followers online.”

The countermeasures shared by Secretary Tillerson reflect the many ways Morocco has sought to tackle extremism and the threat of terrorism over the past few years. In May 2015, the country strengthened its counterterrorism operations by creating the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation to bring different elements of the security sector under a central institution. That same year, Morocco’s Parliament enacted laws to criminalize “joining, or attempting to join a terrorist group; receiving terrorist training; and terrorist recruiting.” In addition to the anti-terrorist activities of its security forces, Morocco is taking steps to block terrorists’ access to financial resources and monitor religious organizations to ensure that donations are not used to finance terrorist activities.

Morocco has been a strong proponent of greater intelligence sharing and maintains close intelligence relations with the US and countries throughout Europe and the Middle East. Following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Morocco provided the intelligence that enabled French police to locate the mastermind of the attacks and arrest a Belgian national with direct links to the Islamist gunmen and bombers.

Morocco has also been at the front lines of the ideological battle against religious extremism. Since the early 2000s, the country has reorganized its religious structures—upgrading mosques, publishing an official bulletin of imams, creating a Directorate of Religious Education within the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, training both men and women as religious preachers, among other steps—to protect against radicalization. In a scathing rebuke of Islamic extremism, King Mohammed VI said in a speech delivered to the nation in August 2016, “Those who engage in terrorism, in the name of Islam, are not Muslims… They have strayed from the right path, and their fate is to dwell forever in hell.”

“The meeting was an opportunity to highlight the vision of His Majesty the King to fight the terrorist threat,” said Minister Bourita. “It is a multidimensional approach that includes preventive and repressive aspects.”

Representatives from all 68 member countries and organizations attended the meeting; from North Africa, Minister Bourita was joined by representatives from Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia.

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 Contact: Jordana Merran, 202.470.2049

The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.

This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.

 

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Morocco Continues Local and African Leadership on the Environment – Jean R. AbiNader

Morocco on the move - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 17:26

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
March 23, 2017

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

While some may question the durability of commitments made at COP22 and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, there is no doubt that Morocco takes these responsibilities seriously. Recent news coverage on two development projects indicate that Morocco is all about the business of building a better future for itself and for Africa.

Two articles reported the latest developments in Zenata Eco-City, located between Casablanca and Rabat. When announced in 2012, Zenata was to be the pilot for a number of new cities planned by Morocco to relieve the urban overcrowding that is continuing at an accelerating pace. By 2030, urban populations in Africa are expected to increase by 15% and it’s worse in densely populated cities like Casablanca, where overcrowding leads to poor health and environmental outcomes, not to mention pockets of poverty and inadequate social services.

Aside from its famous IKEA, which opened in March 2016, Zenata boasts several locally designed and developed urban spaces featuring open land, apartment buildings with recreational areas for young people, a community mosque, as well as shops and transportation. The city, planned for 300,000 inhabitants, is growing based on a master plan that focuses on public utilities, air quality, ease of movement, and jobs. According to a story by Devex (“the media platform for the global community”), they key for the government is that planning be done with heavy local input and stress three development pillars: environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

Additional information, provided by Dr. Zakia Belhachmi, a senior international development advisor, pointed out that “Prior to its recent development as an eco-city, it was home to nearly 40,000 people living in slums whose inhabitants were relocated to temporary housing in apartments nearby as part of the region’s urban master plan. Zenata not only maximizes the use of natural resources of the city, but is also allocating 30% of the first phase as a ‘green space’ and a central park conceived to promote biodiversity.”

Dr. Belhachmi raises critical questions about whether the education system in these new cities will incorporate the concept of sustainability in its curricula and about the role of parent-teacher associations. “After all, new modes of living involving a transition from slums into an eco-city are educational at their core simply because of the sustainable principles involved. Development in this context includes a socialization process that addresses the mind-set of the people not just their physical habitat.”

Congo Receives Attention

Further afield, a direct outcome of COP22 was the recent signing in Congo of a “Congo Basin Blue Fund.” The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) says that the “Blue economy concerns all water bodies, including lakes, watercourses and groundwater, not forgetting seas and coasts. The main economic activity domains of Africa based on marine and aquatic resources include fishing, fish farming, tourism, transport, the port sector, mining and energy.”

The Congo Basin Blue Fund was one of the three priorities raised by King Mohammed VI at the Africa Action Summit held during COP22. One of the major concerns is the deforestation in the Congo Basin forests, which are second only to the Amazon Basin as a natural carbon storage system. This is a joint project of the Brazzaville Foundation and nine countries, including Morocco, which participated in the signing of an MOU this month to formally launch the fund.

According to several sources, “The fund will finance projects in river transport, dredging and infrastructure, renewable energy, irrigation, fishing and ecotourism to foster sustainable industries based on the Congo’s renewable resources.” Given Morocco’s commitment to advancing its own water management as well as its outreach to share with African countries valuable expertise on renewable energy, agriculture, and fisheries, it is not surprising that it has joined this group.

Next steps include tapping climate change financing facilities such as the one raised by the World Bank and Morocco, and attracting funding from other international agencies, investors, and philanthropic organizations.

Cécilia Attias, member of the Brazzaville Foundation, commented that the fund “marks a huge step forward in delivering economic and environmental sustainability to the Congo Basin and surrounding communities. We are delighted by the support of these nine nations who have united in peaceful cooperation on this vital mission.”

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Moroccan Habib El Malki New AIPU President

The moroccan press - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 13:54

Speaker of the house of representatives (lower house) Habib El Malki was appointed as new president of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU), on Tuesday in Rabat, during the closing session of the Union 24th conference.

This appointment was announced following the two-day meeting to replace Nabih Berri, speaker of the Lebanese parliament, whose mandate has ended.

In a speech on the occasion, El Malki thanked all Arab MPs attending the event for their trust and spirit of consultation.

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Govt. Formation: National Interest Commends HM the King's Decision to End Impasse

The moroccan press - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 13:51

US magazine "National Interest" lauded, on Tuesday, the decision of HM King Mohammed VI to put an end to the electoral impasse in Morocco.

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Morocco's Central Bank Maintains Interest Rate at 2.25 pc

The moroccan press - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 13:49

Morocco's central bank held its benchmark interest rate at 2.25 percent forecasting inflation would remain subdued.

   “Considering inflation forecast as well as recent trends and medium-term projections of macroeconomic conditions, the Board has determined that the current level of the key rate continues to ensure appropriate monetary conditions, and decided to keep it unchanged at 2.25 percent”, the central bank governor, Abdellatif Jouahri, said at a press conference following the board's quarterly meeting.

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Official Underlines Need For Green, Inclusive Transportation System

The moroccan press - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 13:38

Acting minister of equipment, transportation and logistics Mohamed Boussaid underlined, on Tuesday in Rabat, the need to adopt a broader vision in line with the general goals of the transportation policy aimed at helping with the emergence of economically and socially more efficient transportation systems that are more economical energy-wise and environment-friendly.

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HM King Abdullah II of Jordan to Start on Wednesday Official Visit to Morocco

The moroccan press - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 13:19

HM King Abdullah II of Jordan will pay an official visit to Morocco on March 22-24 at the invitation of HM King Mohammed VI, the ministry of the Royal Household, Protocol and Chancellery announced on Monday in a statement

On this occasion HM the King will hold official talks with His illustrious guest.

The Sovereign will also offer an official dinner at the Royal Palace in Rabat, in honor of HM King Abdullah II, and the delegation accompanying him.

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Spain ‘Hasn’t Changed Its Position’ on Sahara Issue

The moroccan press - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 13:17

Spain "has not changed its position" on the Sahara issue and reiterates its "full willingness" to continue its efforts to contribute to developing the strategic relations between Morocco and the European Union, Spokesperson of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Ana Rodriguez, said.

   In a statement to MAP on Monday, Ambassador Ricardo Díez-Hochleitner of the Kingdom of Spain in Morocco highlighted the spokesperson’s statement about "the importance of Spanish-Moroccan relations" following information published on the Madrid position on the Sahara issue.

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'Mohammed VI Tangiers Tech City' to Create 100K Direct Jobs

The moroccan press - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 13:16

The “Mohammed VI Tangiers Tech City” project will create about 100,000 direct jobs, President of the Chinese industrial group Haite, Li Biao, said on Monday in Tangier.

   This economically integrated city will include several types of industries, including aerospace, automotive and agri-food, in addition to a residential area for employees, Biao told press on the sidelines of the presentation ceremony before HM King Mohammed VI of this project, carried out by the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, the Haite Group and BMCE-Bank.

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Bourita Received in Bamako by Malian President

The moroccan press - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 13:13

Minister delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, was received Monday in Bamako by Malian President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

During this meeting, which took place on high royal instructions, Bourita handed to the Malian Head of State a message from HM King Mohammed VI.

The audience was attended notably by Morocco's ambassador to Mali, Hassan Naciri, and Malian minister for Foreign Affairs, African Integration and International Cooperation, Abdoulaye Diop.

MAP 20 March 2017

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Morocco's request to join ECOWAS: FM Hands over Message of HM the King to President of Niger

The moroccan press - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 16:00

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Salaheddine Mezouar, was received on Monday in Niamey by the President of the Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou.

On this occasion, Mezouar handed over to the Nigerien President a message from HM the King on Morocco's request to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

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24th Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference Kicks off in Rabat

The moroccan press - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 15:55

The 24th Conference of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU) kicked off on Monday in Rabat.

Held under the theme “consolidation of Arab joint action”, the two-day meeting will be marked by the election of a new president of the AIPU and the discussion of the Union's working plan for 2017.

The participants will also discuss the current situation of the Arab world as well as the challenges facing Arab countries.

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Morocco’s FM Received by Senegalese President

The moroccan press - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 13:22

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Salaheddine Mezouar was received, here Saturday, by Senegalese President Macky Sall within the framework of a tour dedicated to Morocco’s request to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

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Mezouar Holds Bureau Meeting in Rabat in preparation for May Sessions in Bonn

The moroccan press - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 13:21

COP22 President and Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Salaheddine Mezouar chaired, here Friday, a meeting of the COP22/CMP12/CMA1 Bureau to review the outcomes of COP22 and to exchange on expectations for COP23, which will organized by Fiji.

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Consultations for the formation of the new government will include all the parties represented in the Parliament: El Othmani

The moroccan press - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 13:19

Morocco's new appointed Head of Government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, said on Sunday that he will begin consultations with all the political parties represented in the parliament for the formation of the new government.

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Morocco Says Africa Able To Overcome Challenges Thanks To Vast Natural, Human Resources

Western Sahara Worldnews - Sat, 03/18/2017 - 01:41

Xinhuanet
Source: Xinhua

Morocco believes in Africa’s capacity to rise to the challenges facing it and to ensure sustainable human development for its peoples, thanks to its vast natural and human resources, King Mohammed VI said on Friday.

“Achieving the African renaissance we yearn for hinges, however, on how much belief we have in ourselves, how far we rely on our own capacities and potential, and how well we exploit them, within the framework of mutually-beneficial South-South cooperation and solidarity-based, strategic partnerships,” the king said in a message addressed to the participants in the 2017 edition of the Crans Montana Forum, which kicked off in the southern city of Dakhla.

“I am sure we can rise to these challenges,” he insisted, saying that Africa is governed today by a new generation of pragmatic leaders, uninhibited by outdated ideologies who are working with a high sense of patriotism and responsibility to achieve their countries’ stability, political openness, economic development and social progress.

The King said that South-South cooperation, which is based on the culture of sharing and solidarity, is “the mechanism that will enable our countries to exchange their expertise directly and immediately. It will help improve our field experience, make the most of our complementarities and expand our national markets.”

This cooperation “will also open up new opportunities for efficient and beneficial investment and achieve effective sustainable human development, while respecting each country’s national sovereignty, as well as the principles of mutual esteem and equality,” the Sovereign noted.

Crans Montana Forum is attended with the participation of more than 150 countries represented by high-level personalities.

Morocco, US Conclude Tenth Annual Flintlock Military Exercise

Morocco on the move - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 20:56

Washington, DC, March 17, 2017, Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) — United States forces yesterday concluded Exercise Flintlock 2017, a three-week military training exercise in Morocco and six other African host nations sponsored by US Africa Command. More than 2,000 military personnel from 24 African and Western nations participated in the tenth iteration of the exercise, which was established in 2005 to “[strengthen] security institutions, [promote] multilateral sharing of information and [develop] interoperability between counterterrorism partners from across Africa’s Sahara region.”

In Morocco, Marines from Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) trained with their Moroccan counterparts “on small unit special operations forces tactics, weapons training and fire support, lifesaving first aid and trauma care, command and control and force protection.” An opening ceremony was held February 27 at the Tifnit training base in Morocco’s Southern Zone area of operations.

“These types of activities, as well as other joint combined Moroccan-American exercises, are a golden opportunity to further enhance the ties of military cooperation between our two countries,” said Brig. Gen. Mohammed Benlouali, operations commander for Morocco’s Southern Zone, in remarks delivered at the ceremony on behalf of the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces.

“Morocco plays a key leadership role in Africa and we are honored by the continued partnership and friendship between our two countries,” said MARSOC’s exercise instructor.

A press release announcing the exercise stated, “In all of American history, no other country has maintained its treaty relationship with America for as long as Morocco. Flintlock 2017 is the most recent in a long line of actions and expressions of solidarity between the two nations.”

Since the 1990s, Morocco has also served as host of African Lion, the largest annual US joint military exercise in Africa, “designed to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation’s tactics, techniques and procedures.” Military exercises like Flintlock and African Lion are just one of the many ways the US and Morocco coordinate on security measures. Designated as a “major non-NATO ally,” Morocco was the first Maghreb country to be a member of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition. And this year, Morocco served as co-chair with the Netherlands of the US-established Global Counterterrorism Forum.

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 Contact: Jordana Merran, 202.470.2049

The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.

This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.

 

The post Morocco, US Conclude Tenth Annual Flintlock Military Exercise appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

Morocco Trade Deficit Up 21.7 Pct Y/Y In Jan-Feb

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 17:27

Reuters
by Samia Errazzouki

Morocco’s trade deficit rose 21.7 percent to 26.71 billion dirhams ($2.66 billion) year-on-year in January and February, the foreign exchange regulator said on Friday, citing increased imports.

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Morocco’s Saham Assurance Reports 17 Pct Fall In 2016 Net Profit

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 03/17/2017 - 17:19

Reuters
by Samia Errazzouki

Morocco’s Saham Assurance on Friday reported a 17.2 percent fall in 2016 net profit to 282 million dirhams ($28.2 million), the insurance company said in a statement.

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; writing by Aidan Lewis; editing by Jason Neely)

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