The moroccan press

Kentucky Air Guard Trains With Troops From 11 Nations In Morocco For African Lion

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 15:03

DVID’S
Photo By Master Sgt. Philip Speck
Senior Airman Judson Wisley

More than 75 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard deployed to Spain and Morocco this spring for African Lion, a multinational exercise that tested the interoperability of military troops from 11 countries.

Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing and three of the unit’s C-130 aircraft joined forces with Airmen from U.S. Air Forces in Europe, U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Forces Africa joint tactical air controllers, the Utah Air National Guard, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces and troops from nine other nations.

“Multinational exercises give us an opportunity to train together, allow us to support joint and total forces and strengthen our skills for future operations,” said Lt. Col. Jason Johnson, U.S. Air Force lead commander for the exercise, which ran from April 19 to 28.

The U.S. Air Force’s participation in the U.S. Marine Corps-led exercise provided several joint training opportunities for U.S. military branches and Moroccan forces, according to said Capt. Tristan Stonger, 123rd Airlift Wing exercise project officer. It also provided an opportunity to reinforce lessons learned from past African Lion exercises and helped build upon a foundation for future military cooperation and engagements.

“Working in a new environment with other U.S. military branches and the Moroccans gives us the opportunity to hone and refine our skills and enhances our professional relationships, allowing us to support the interoperability of forces,” Stonger said.

In addition to building relationships between the branches of the military and the Kingdom of Morocco, the wing was able to perform several different training scenarios to prepare for future deployments, including low-level air drops and low-level navigation through the mountains of North Africa.

“This type of training helps keep our aircrews current and fully prepared and trained for any type of airlift operation that our nation calls for,” said Maj. Penn Brown, a pilot for Kentucky’s 165th Airlift Squadron.

This annually scheduled, combined multilateral exercise aims to improve interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation’s tactics, techniques and procedures while demonstrating the strong bond between the nations’ militaries. In addition to forces from the United States and Morocco, other participating nations were Germany, Senegal, Mauritania, Canada, France, Spain, Great Britain, Mali and Tunisia.

NEWS INFO

Date Taken: 06.09.2017
Date Posted: 06.09.2017 10:07
Story ID: 237033
Location: NAVAL STATION ROTA, ES

Court Ruling On Seized Phosphate Shipment Delayed

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 14:24

Radio New Zealand

A shipment of phosphate bound for New Zealand faces another week of detention in South Africa after a court ruling on the cargo was delayed.

The NM Cherry Blossom was carrying 50,000 tonnes of phosphate rock when it was stopped at Port Elizabeth. Photo: Supplied / M.L. Jacobs MarineTraffic.com

The NM Cherry Blossom was carrying 54,000 tonnes of phosphate rock – one eighth of New Zealand’s annual needs – when it was stopped at Port Elizabeth en route for Tauranga.

Activists then went to court, saying the fertiliser had been mined illegally in the Western Sahara, a desert territory controlled by Morocco.

Morocco’s right to this land is disputed.

The South African judges were expected to deliver their verdict today but they have put off their decision until next Thursday.

New Zealand needs phosphate for its agriculture because the mineral is essential for plant growth.

Morocco and Western Sahara are by far the biggest exporters of the rock.

Western Sahara was a Spanish colony that was taken over by Morocco in the 1970s.

The seized shipment had been contracted by the fertiliser company Ballance Agri Nutrients.

This company has another vessel en route for New Zealand, which is believed to be travelling via Cape Horn to avoid a repetition of the problems in South Africa.

Independence campaigners for Western Sahara have been targeting phosphate shipments after the European Court ruled last year that Western Sahara should not be considered part of Morocco for trade purposes.

Parallel case in Panama

Meanwhile a parallel case has been resolved in Panama.

In that case, a shipment of phosphate was detained while transiting the Panama Canal en route for western Canada.

The vessel was later released after posting a bond.

But in a new development, a court in Panama has thrown out a case brought by the Western Sahara independence campaigners.

The judges ruled their court was not the appropriate venue to resolve a political dispute.

Ballance Agri Nutrients has been watching the Panamanian case for any clues on the outcome of its own case.

Morocco Marks First Africa Day After Rejoining AU

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 11:19

Source: Xinhua
Editor: yan

Moroccan Foreign Ministry organized the Africa Day Celebration here on Thursday under the theme “Morocco as an actor for collective emergence in Africa.”

At the opening of the first edition in Morocco as a member of the African Union (AU), Nasser Bourita, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said 2017 has been an “exceptional” year in the relationships between Morocco and African countries.

In February, Morocco rejoined the AU after 33 years of absence.

Morocco’s return to AU has crowned its strong commitment to Africa’s peace, stability and prosperity, Bourita said.

He noted that two thirds of Morocco’s foreign investments are directed toward Africa, making the kingdom the largest African investor in West Africa and the second in the continent.

According to the minister, more than a thousand Moroccan companies are operating in Africa and invested 2.2 billion U.S. dollars between 2008 and 2015.

Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani and ambassadors of foreign countries also attended the celebration.

Panama Court Dismisses Western Sahara Phosphate Claim – Morocco’s OCP

Western Sahara Worldnews - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 03:34

Daily Mail
by Reuters
by Samia Errazzouki

A Panama court dismissed a case by the Western Sahara Polisario independence movement to block a Moroccan shipment of phosphate in Panama saying there was no evidence the cargo belonged to the group, the Moroccan phosphate producer said on Thursday.

Polisario in May filed a claim to hold the Danish charter vessel Ultra Innovation, carrying 55,000 tonnes of phosphate rock from Morocco’s Office Cherifien de Phosphate (OCP), through Panama to the Port of Vancouver for the Canadian company Agrium.

The detention of the vessel was a new legal tactic by the independence movement in its conflict with Morocco over Western Sahara, a disputed territory where the two sides fought a war until a 1991 ceasefire.

“The court ruled that a domestic court is not the appropriate venue to consider purely political matters. It also ruled there is indeed no evidence demonstrating that the cargo on board belongs to the plaintiffs,” OCP said in a statement.

Panama court authorities were not immediately available for comment to confirm the OCP statement. Polisario said its lawyers were not aware of such a decision.

In late May, Panama judicial sources and Agrium said the shipping company posted a bond for the release of the ship.

By trying to seize Moroccan phosphate vessels, Polisario had tested a European court ruling last year that Western Sahara should not be considered part of the Moroccan kingdom in EU and Moroccan deals. Polisario said phosphate shipped from the disputed territory does not belong to Morocco.

Western Sahara has been disputed since 1975, when Morocco claimed it as part of the kingdom and the Polisario fought a guerrilla war for the Sahrawi people’s independence. A 1991 ceasefire split the region in two between what Morocco calls its southern provinces and an area controlled by Polisario.

Morocco’s OCP is the world’s leading phosphate exporter and operates in the Moroccan-held areas.

U.N.-backed negotiations have failed for years to end the dispute. Morocco wants the region to have autonomy within Moroccan sovereignty. Polisario wants to hold a referendum on self-determination, including on the question of independence.

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Adrian Croft)

Business Brief: More Reporting on Morocco’s Regional and Global Standing – Jean R. AbiNader

Morocco on the move - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 20:09

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
June 8, 2017

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

The United Nations and World Bank published reports that looked at global growth and projections for economic performance in the coming years. Bright spots for Morocco include progress in retooling its economy while still facing challenges in job creation, reducing urban sprawl, and enhancing overall economic performance going forward.

World Bank looks to Morocco to continue growth. Based on its continuing analysis and assessment of Morocco’s strategic and tactical steps to grow its economy, the World Bank, in its “June 2017 Global Economic Prospects – A Fragile Recovery,” noted that Morocco has benefited from fiscal consolidation programs, focusing on reducing public expenditures, reforming energy subsidies, and restructuring taxes.

The report also noted the steps the country has taken to compensate for declining tourism from Europe by opening up markets in China and other expanding sources. It pointed out that the rebound in the agricultural sector in 2016 portends greater GDP growth of 3.8% in 2017, 3.7% in 2018, and 3.6% in 2019, which will make it the top performer in North Africa and second overall on the continent.

UN Economic Report on Africa features Morocco’s ports as key to growth. The UN Economic Commission on Africa released its latest report at its headquarters in Addis Ababa entitled “Urbanization and Industrialization for Africa’s Transformation.” It includes data on the pace and quality of urbanization throughout Africa and then examines how industrial tools, such as Special Economic Zones (SEZs), can facilitate rapid and effective economic growth strategies.

More specifically, the authors looked at how Africa is growing and what policies are needed to sustain the best aspects of the changes that are taking place. For example, while Morocco has increased the gross domestic savings portion of its GDP to 34.8%, very little of these funds are made available for domestic investments. And while Tunisia and Morocco have the lowest gap between wealthy and poor (2013 figures), the Maghreb region as a whole has the lowest level of female participation in the workforce on the continent. And despite the rise in foreign direct investment in the manufacturing sectors, services continue to be the fastest growing component of the economy.

Morocco has experienced rapid urbanization—more than 60% of Moroccans live in cities, which creates demands on the social infrastructure – housing, education, access to potable water, transportation, and similar needs – that the government is striving mightily to assuage. It now ranks third in Africa in housing construction, employing some 10% of the workforce. More than 60% of Moroccans own their own homes.

The report noted that “Morocco has had notable success in upgrading slums and relocating slum dwellers…Through a three-pronged approach, the programme [Cities without Slums] has moved slum dwellers to new housing (mostly apartment blocks), provided them with serviced plots to build their own homes and conducted on-site upgrading of infrastructure and services.” This, along with tax incentives to builders, has also spurred growth in the housing construction industry through increasing demand.

On the industrialization side, Morocco gets high marks for its growing manufacturing sectors. “The [automobile] industry is now the country’s largest export sector, dethroning phosphates.” A critical side benefit of this growth is the extensive infrastructure in place for the transportation and distribution of parts and vehicles, as well as hundreds of supply chain companies. This also serves the aeronautics industry and its suppliers, as well as light-manufacturing and offshoring activities, which require easy access for both labor and supplies.

Overall, Morocco appears to have built sufficient platforms for continued growth and expansion through proactive government policies, as well as support from international donors, international investors, and public-private partnerships. The only caveat is to increase the number of skilled, market-ready workers to keep pace with growing economic expansion in the services and manufacturing sectors.

The post Business Brief: More Reporting on Morocco’s Regional and Global Standing – Jean R. AbiNader appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

Panama Court Dismisses Western Sahara Phosphate Claim – Morocco’s OCP

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 15:08

NASDAQ
by Samia Errazzouki

A Panama court dismissed a case by the Western Sahara Polisario independence movement to block a Moroccan shipment of phosphate in Panama saying there was no evidence the cargo belonged to the group, the Moroccan phosphate producer said on Thursday.

Polisario in May filed a claim to hold the Danish charter vessel Ultra Innovation, carrying 55,000 tonnes of phosphate rock from Morocco’s Office Cherifien de Phosphate (OCP), through Panama to the Port of Vancouver for the Canadian company Agrium.

The detention of the vessel was a new legal tactic by the independence movement in its conflict with Morocco over Western Sahara, a disputed territory where the two sides fought a war until a 1991 ceasefire. “The court ruled that a domestic court is not the appropriate venue to consider purely political matters. It also ruled there is indeed no evidence demonstrating that the cargo on board belongs to the plaintiffs,” OCP said in a statement.

Panama court authorities were not immediately available for comment to confirm the OCP statement. Polisario said its lawyers were not aware of such a decision. In late May, Panama judicial sources and Agrium said the shipping company posted a bond for the release of the ship. By trying to seize Moroccan phosphate vessels, Polisario had tested a European court ruling last year that Western Sahara should not be considered part of the Moroccan kingdom in EU and Moroccan deals.

Polisario said phosphate shipped from the disputed territory does not belong to Morocco. Western Sahara has been disputed since 1975, when Morocco claimed it as part of the kingdom and the Polisario fought a guerrilla war for the Sahrawi people’s independence. A 1991 ceasefire split the region in two between what Morocco calls its southern provinces and an area controlled by Polisario.

Morocco’s OCP is the world’s leading phosphate exporter and operates in the Moroccan-held areas. U.N.-backed negotiations have failed for years to end the dispute. Morocco wants the region to have autonomy within Moroccan sovereignty. Polisario wants to hold a referendum on self-determination, including on the question of independence.

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Adrian Croft) ((pat.markey@thomsonreuters.com; +213-661-692993; Reuters Messaging: pat.markey.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: WESTERNSAHARA MOROCCO/PANAMA (UPDATE 1)

'Renault Morocco' Rolls Out Millionth Vehicle

The moroccan press - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 14:58

Morocco Renault Group celebrated, Tuesday, the export from the Tangier Med port of the millionth vehicle, manufactured in its Moroccan factories of Tangier and Casablanca.

The number of exported vehicles was to a large extent behind the very good performance of the automotive industry as the first export sector, said minister of Industry, Investment, Trade and Digital Economy, Moulay Hafid Elalamy, adding that "this is a success story that we are trying to multiply in other sectors."

Categories: The moroccan press

Ancient Fossils From Morocco Mess Up Modern Human Origins

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 14:55

Scientific American
by Kate Wong

Dated to more than 300,000 years ago, the finds raise key questions about the defining features of Homo sapiens and how our kind came to be.

The year was 1961. A barite mining operation at the Jebel Irhoud massif in Morocco, some 100 kilometers west of Marrakech, turned up a fossil human skull. Subsequent excavation uncovered more bones from other individuals, along with animal remains and stone tools. Scientists’ best guess was that the remains were about 40,000 years old and represented African versions of Neandertals.

In the decades that followed, researchers shifted their stance on the identity of the remains, coming to see them as members of our own species, Homo sapiens—and they redated the site to roughly 160,000 years ago. Still, the Jebel Irhoud fossils remained something of a mystery, because in some respects they looked more primitive than older H. sapiensfossils.

Now new evidence is rewriting the story of Jebel Irhoud once again. A team led by Jean-Jacques Hublin of Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany has recovered more human fossils and more stone tools, along with compelling evidence the site is double the age experts previously believed it to be. The researchers describe their findings in papers published this week in Nature.

If the fossils do in fact represent H. sapiens,as the team argues, the finds push back the origin of our species by more than 100,000 years and challenge leading ideas about where and how our lineage evolved. But other scientists disagree about what, exactly, the new findings mean. In a way, far from tidily solving the puzzle of our origins, the Jebel Irhoud discoveries add to mounting evidence that the dawning of our kind was a very complicated affair.

The reconstructed composite reveals a short, modern-looking face paired with a long, low braincase that calls to mind archaic humans. Credit: Philipp Gunz, MPI EVA Leipzig

Experts have long recognized that H. sapiensgot its start in Africa. Up to this point, the oldest commonly accepted traces of our species were in Ethiopia: 195,000-year-old remains from the site of Omo Kibish and 160,000-year-old fossils from Herto. Yet hints that our species might have deeper roots had come to light. For instance, a skull with some modern characteristics from Florisbad, South Africa, was dated to 259,000 years ago—but the skull was assigned to a more primitive species, Homo heidelbergensis, and the date was never widely accepted. Clues have also come from studies of DNA recovered from human fossils. In 2016 researchers led by Matthias Meyer, also at Max Planck, reported that they had recovered DNA from fossils at the Spanish site of Sima de los Huesos that indicated H. sapiens split from its closest evolutionary relatives, the Neandertals, more than 500,000 years ago, implying an older fossil record of H. sapiens remained to be discovered.

To that end, Hublin and his colleagues have unearthed fossils of several other individuals from a part of the Jebel Irhoud site that the miners had not disturbed in the 1960s. Their finds included skull and lower jawbones as well as stone tools and the remains of animals the humans hunted. Multiple dating techniques indicate the stratigraphic layer from which the fossils and artifacts were recovered dates to between 350,000 and 280,000 years ago.

Analyzing the sizes and shapes of the Jebel Irhoud bones, the researchers found that the form of the face, lower jaw and teeth was distinct from Neandertals and other archaic humans. In these features the Jebel Irhoud remains resembled H. sapiens. The braincase, however, lacks the round shape characteristic of modern humans and instead has the elongate shape seen in archaic humans. Such differences in braincase shape are associated with differences in brain organization. All things considered, the team concluded the Jebel Irhoud remains represent “the very root of our species, the oldest H. sapiens ever found in Africa or elsewhere,” Hublin said at a press teleconference. The remains reveal a group that did not have all of our hallmark traits yet but whose form could have gradually evolved directly into that seen in people today, he and his colleagues report in their paper describing the fossils.

Lower jawbone from Jebel Irhoud is nearly complete. Human fossils from this time period in Africa are exceedingly rare. Credit: Jean-Jacques Hublin, Leipzig

The discovery “allowed us to envision a more complex picture for the emergence of our species, with different parts of the anatomy evolving at different rates,” Hublin said. Some parts, such as the face, attained their modern form early on; others, including the brain, took longer to reach the modern condition. He added that the findings do not imply Morocco was the cradle of modern humankind. Instead, taken together with other fossil discoveries including the Florisbad skull, they suggest the emergence of H. sapiens was a pan-African affair. Hublin said that by 300,000 years ago, early H. sapiens had dispersed across the continent. This dispersal was helped by the fact that Africa was quite different back then—the Sahara was green, not the forbidding desert barrier that it is today.

The Jebel Irhoud discovery coincides with findings from a separate study of ancient DNAmade available this week on the bioRxiv preprint server ahead of peer review and publication. Carina Schlebusch and Mattias Jakobsson of Uppsala University in Sweden and their colleagues analyzed seven H. sapiens genomes from South Africa, from people who lived between 2,000 and 300 years ago. The researchers found that the groups to which these individuals belonged diverged more than 260,000 years ago, which would mean our species is at least that old. “The two new papers certainly complement each other,” observes evolutionary geneticist Alan Rogers of the University of Utah, who was not involved in either study. “The Jebel Irhoud paper tells us modern human morphology is older than we had thought. The Schlebusch et al paper says modern human populations have been separate for nearly this long.”

Not everyone is ready to accept the claim that the Jebel Irhoud fossils necessarily belong to H. sapiens, however. Paleoanthropologist John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin–Madison says their modern-looking traits might not actually reflect a connection to our species. He notes the analysis by Hublin and his colleagues did not compare the Jebel Irhoud remains with fossils from Spain dating to more than 800,000 years ago that belong to a species called H. antecessor.

“There is an archaic human population with facial morphology that resembles modern humans in many ways, and it is a lot older than Jebel Irhoud,” he says of H. antecessor. “Maybe Jebel Irhoud was evolving into modern humans, but another possibility is that it is retaining facial morphology from an H. antecessor–like population that may have been the last common ancestor of Neandertals and later African archaic humans.”

Indeed the new fossils “raise major questions about what features define our species,” observes paleoanthropologist Marta Lahr of the University of Cambridge in England. “[Is] it the globular skull, with its implications on brain reorganization, that make a fossil Homo sapiens? If so, the Irhoud population are our close cousins.” But if, on the other hand, a small face and the shape of the lower jaw are the key traits, then the Jebel Irhoud find could be one of our actual ancestors—and thus shift the focus of scientists who study modern human origins from sub-Saharan Africa to the Mediterranean—Lahr says.

Either way, the new discoveries seem poised to fan debate over who invented the artifacts of Africa’s Middle Stone Age (MSA) cultural period, which spanned the time between roughly 300,000 and 40,000 years ago. The archaeological record shows that during the MSA early humans across Africa and Eurasia moved away from making clunky handaxes to crafting more portable cutting tools using so-called Levallois methods for shaping stone. Researchers disagree about whether this new technology arose once and spread across the Old World as early humans dispersed or whether different populations invented the technology independently. And because the oldest MSA artifacts predated the oldest known H. sapiens fossils, experts had reason to believe that multiple species made MSA tools.

Stone tools from Jebel Irhoud show people in North Africa had so-called Middle Stone Age technology by 300,000 years ago. Credit: Mohammed Kamal, MPI EVA Leipzig

The new findings could change the equation, however. “I don’t believe the MSA is evolving independently all over the place, and the Irhoud date firmly places the earliest MSA within the sapiens lineage (or with sapiensitself depending on how the nomenclature issue settles), rather than before it,” Lahr says.

Other experts are cautious about linking the MSA to a particular species. “We have the potential for other lineages to still be on the landscape,” explains archaeologist Christian Tryon of Harvard University. “I’m hesitant to go straight from archaeology to species, particularly at 300,000 years ago, when [Homo] heidelbergensis and others may still have been running around.” Recently researchers dated fossils of Homo naledi, a small-brained human species whose remains have been found in South Africa, to between 335,000 and 236,000 years ago—meaning it was among the other humans on the scene during the MSA.

“The big story right now in human evolution is that Africa 250,000 years ago was not what we thought it was, and the formation of African modern human populations from that time period was a very complicated process,” Hawks says. “I think that people had this assumption that once you knew modern humans evolved in Africa, that solved everything. That assumption led to the notion that whatever African fossil record there was must be the ancestors of modern humans. It turns out that’s massively oversimplified. There are several different lineages of archaic humans, Homo naledi and others, that genetics is suggesting must have existed. And we don’t know how most of the fossils fit. That’s where Jebel Irhoud is—we now know its age, but we still don’t know how it fits in.”

The new finds “make the picture nicely complicated,” Tryon agrees. “I like a messy story and this contributes to it.” But it also means the scientists chasing the origins of our own species have their work cut out for them. Sometimes the most familiar things are also the most mysterious.

King of Bahrain Approves Amendment of Moroccan-Bahraini Convention on Non-Double Taxation

The moroccan press - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 14:54

The King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa, approved and promulgated a law amending the Moroccan-Bahraini Convention on Non-Double Taxation.

The Bahraini Sovereign approved and promulgated Law No. 17 for the year 2017 ratifying the protocol of amendment to the Convention binding the governments of Bahrain and Morocco, so as to avoid double taxation and prevent tax evasion in terms of income tax, the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported on Wednesday.

Categories: The moroccan press

Total Looks At Downstream In Morocco, S.Africa To Spur Gas Demand

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 14:48

Yahoo Finance
Reuters – UK Focus
By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

France’s Total SA (Paris: FR0000120271 – news) is looking to invest in gas and power infrastructure projects in Morocco and South Africa as it seeks to open new markets, the company’s head of gas said on Thursday.

Total (LSE: 524773.L – news) will roughly double its liquefied natural gas (LNG) portfolio by 2020 to 15 million tonnes per year, but the company needs to look at deals that will give it footholds in new markets and capture new gas buyers, Laurent Vivier said.

Morocco plans to build a project, worth up to $4.6 billion, which includes the import of up to 7 billion cubic metres of gas by 2025, the construction of a jetty, terminal, pipelines and gas-fired power plants with capacity to produce up to 2,400 megawatts of electricity.

In January, Moroccan state-owned power utility ONEE picked HSBC as financial adviser for the project.

“Morocco wants to launch an onshore LNG terminal along with the power (infrastructure) behind it, and it wants the same company to be involved in all of this,” Vivier told Reuters during a visit to Copenhagen.

“If we said that we are not interested in power generation, we’d have to say no to these kinds of projects.”

He added that Total is also interested in a similar project in South Africa, where the government plans a 50 billion rand ($3.9 billion) gas-to-power development that will require 1.6 million tonnes a year of gas imports.

Total will take minority stakes in such projects, he said, noting that an average 400-megawatt combined-cycle power plant costs roughly $300 million to build.

“As long as it’s an integrated project and we can place our own production of gas in those projects, we are happy to look at this,” Vivier said.

In 2015, Total decided to remove coal-related businesses from its portfolio and said a move to gas from coal for energy can cut carbon emissions by 50 percent, a quick win for countries aiming to meet carbon emission reduction targets.

($1 = 12.8595 rand) (Additional reporting by Bate Felix in Paris; Editing by Dale Hudson)

Renault Exports 1 Million Vehicles From Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 14:44

ANSAmed

French car manufacturer Renault has exported its first million vehicles made in Morocco, the Tangier Med port authority has said. Renault Group began production in the north African country at its Casablanca plant in 2007.

It subsequently opened a second production site in Tangier in 2012. These two plants respectively export 95% and 70% of production to foreign markets. In addition to automobiles, Renault also exports component parts manufactured in Morocco to its other production sites in India, Romania, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. (ANSAmed).

Fitch: Islamic Banking A Modest Deposit Stimulus In Morocco

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 14:37

Cpi Financial
by Matthew Amlôt

Islamic banks, referred to as ‘participation banks’ in Morocco, are likely to provide a modest stimulus to deposit growth in the country, Fitch Ratings says. Morocco’s central bank granted its first licences to Islamic banks last week.

Our discussions with Fitch-rated banks indicate that the ability to offer Islamic banking products could expand their deposit bases by five per cent to 10 per cent. The ability to grow the deposit base is positive for Morocco’s economic development because deposits represent about 70 per cent of banking sector funding.

We expect growth of participation banks will be high initially, as was the case following the introduction of Islamic banking in Turkey and Indonesia. The ability to access Islamic products will ensure that customers have access to a more comprehensive range of services. Customers who have avoided transacting with conventional banks for Shari’ah-related reasons can now move into the formal banking sector.

However, banking penetration is already high in Morocco, with 70 per cent of adults holding a bank account, suggesting that most Moroccans have not shied away from the banking sector on faith grounds. Participation banking is therefore unlikely to take a significant market share from the well-established conventional banks.

The growth of participation banks will be affected by several factors, including the spread of awareness of Islamic finance, the extent to which the government stimulates expansion, population growth rates and regulatory developments. Positively, the central bank has established a central Shari’ah board of Islamic scholars to oversee the sector, which should help to provide a cohesive framework under which the banks can operate. Greater clarity on essential aspects, such as how participation banks will manage their liquidity in a Shari’ah-compliant manner and how financing contracts will be drawn up, would help to stimulate the sector. However, delays in establishing a clear framework could hinder the development of participation banks, forcing up funding costs and resulting in insufficient depth in product offerings.

Growth rates in the Moroccan banking sector have been volatile in recent years, reflecting unsteady economic trends. Deposit growth (nearly seven per cent in 2016) has outstripped loan growth (3.9 per cent) in recent years, but credit demand is set to accelerate in line with an improved economic outlook in 2017. This could force banks to compete more aggressively for deposits, putting pressure on margins at the conventional banks. The ability to offer participation banking services could broaden the pool of potential depositors in the country, mitigating the competitive pressure.

Only existing conventional banks have applied for participation banking licences and we are not aware of any independent Islamic banks making requests to operate in Morocco. Banks owned by domestic shareholders, such as Attijariwafa Bank, BMCE Bank, Groupe Banque Centrale Populaire and Credit Immobilier et Hotelier, have opted to establish separate participation banking subsidiaries, while subsidiaries controlled by French parents, such as Societe Generale Marocaine de Banques (controlled by Societe Generale), Banque Marocaine pour le Commerce et l’Industrie ( BILLIONP Paribas) and Credit du Maroc (Credit Agricole), have chosen to provide services through special Islamic banking ‘windows’.

Morocco Takes Part in Copenhagen’s Africa Energy Forum

The moroccan press - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 14:32

A large Moroccan delegation takes part in the 19th edition of Africa Energy Forum (AEF), held in Copenhagen on June 7-9.

The event is held in the presence of several ministers, senior officials and business leaders from 80 countries.

The Moroccan delegation includes senior officials from the Ministry of Energy, Mining and Sustainable Development, the Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency (AMEE) and the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN).

Categories: The moroccan press

Morocco Reiterates Commitment to Promote Cooperation with ILO

The moroccan press - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 14:29

Morocco's Minister of Employment and Professional Integration, Mohamed Yatim, underlined, here Wednesday, Morocco's commitment to promote its cooperation with the International Labor Organization (ILO).

   “Our country's cooperation with the ILO is sustainable, in line with the spirit and guidelines of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development, and reflects a common concern: promoting decent work”,  Yatim said before the International Labor Conference.

Categories: The moroccan press

Lower House Speaker Holds Talks with Palestinian FM

The moroccan press - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 14:20

Speaker of the House of Representatives (lower house), Habib El Malki, held talks on Wednesday in Rabat with Palestinian minister of Foreign Affairs, Riyad al-Maliki.

Talks focused on the latest developments of the Palestinian cause and the means to defend Palestinians’ legitimate rights in order to establish a Palestinian state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as capital, a statement from the House of Representatives said, adding that the Palestinian top diplomat hailed Morocco’s support to the Palestinian people.

Categories: The moroccan press

Scientists Find Oldest Known Specimens Of The Human Species

Western Sahara Worldnews - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 08:07

Fox News
By Robert Lee Hotz

File photo: Skeletal remains from the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins at the American Museum of Natural History, a permanent exhibition hall that presents the remarkable history of human evolution from our earliest ancestors millions of years ago to modern Homo sapiens, are seen in New York,February 7, 2007. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

The bones of ancient hunters unearthed in Morocco are the oldest known specimens of the human species, potentially pushing back the clock on the origin of modern Homo sapiens, scientists announced Wednesday.

Found among stone tools and the ashes of ancient campfires, the remains date from about 300,000 years ago, a time when the Sahara was green and several early human species roamed the world, the scientists said. That makes them about 100,000 years older than any other fossils of Homo sapiens—the species to which all people today belong.

“These dates were a big wow,” said anthropologist Jean-Jacques Hublin at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Leipzig, Germany. He led an international team of scientists who reported the discovery Wednesday in Nature. “This material represents the very roots of our species—the very oldest Homo sapiens found in Africa or anywhere.”

Until now, most researchers believed that modern humankind emerged gradually from a population centered in East Africa around 200,000 years ago. Previous discoveries of early Homo sapiens fossils have been concentrated at sites in Ethiopia.

This story originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

What to do with the Arab Maghreb Union? – Jean R. AbiNader

Morocco on the move - Wed, 06/07/2017 - 16:35

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
June 7, 2017

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

In a previous blog, I focused on King Mohammed VI’s lament regarding the failure of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), speaking to the African Heads of State meeting in January, when Morocco joined the African Union after an absence of 33 years. He raised it as a reason for Morocco’s emphasis on building relations with sub-Saharan Africa. Now, a recent piece from the World Economic Forum (WEF), “Five Ways to Make the Maghreb Work,” again raises the importance of cooperation and collaboration among the five countries that make up the AMU – Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia.

So, what are the solutions proposed in that article that might provide a starting point for reconciliation among the two major protagonists in the AMU, Algeria and Morocco? While not minimizing the roles of the others, it is hard to imagine that Libya, a fractious and fragile shadow of a state, or Mauritania and Tunisia, facing internal challenges as well as outside pressures of instability, are going to provide the necessary leadership to revive the AMU. Let’s take a look at the recommendations made by the WEF author and add insights from a recent article by scholar Anouar Boukhars looking at what can be done to overcome obstacles to security cooperation in the region.

The author of the World Economic Forum piece, Wadia Ait Hamza, notes in her introduction that “…trade between the Maghreb countries represents just 4.8% of their trade volume, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa – and it represents less than 2% of the sub-region’s combined gross domestic product (GDP), according to the World Bank. This region is one of the lowest-performing trading blocs in the world.”

To enable the group to reach more of its potential, she lists five steps: the implementation of the free movement of goods, people, services, and capital; security cooperation; maximizing the complementarity of their economies; greater coordinated activities in sub-Saharan Africa; and greater integration of social, education, and foreign policies.

Testing these five steps against the likelihood of some degree of implementation is a useful measure of how far the AMU remains from its goal of regional integration. Take the issue of open borders, the first step. Not only has Algeria had to erect extensive security controls along its borders with Tunisia and Libya, it is also challenged in the south, where it abuts the Sahel. In reality, the easy movement of profitable trade only lies westward to Morocco, and this border has been closed for more than 23 years. Despite repeated international concern, the border remains closed, inviting smuggling of basic goods, drugs, and arms, and eroding the safety of both countries. This is not to say that someday the ban may be negotiated away, leaving the countries to figure out how to make prosperity work for mutual benefit.

Security cooperation, the second step, is essential to promote future economic development, as well as a safe and stable environment. Foreign investment is risk-averse, and without a sense of stability beyond military force, companies will be loath to broaden their presence in the region. As Boukhars points out, Morocco has been quite successful in attracting foreign investors and would benefit from an open and secure border with Algeria where goods and services can build prosperity for both countries. Security would be greatly enhanced by cooperation between the two, as they possess the most professional military and security assets in the region. Unfortunately, Algeria continues to exclude Morocco from participating in Sahel-focused efforts, which degrades those efforts and leads Morocco to support competitive groupings that it can influence. As importantly, Morocco employs a broad range of soft-power tools to enhance security cooperation – including cultural, educational, religious, business, and media resources — to make its impact throughout the region and increasingly the continent.

Building an integrated economic powerhouse is the third step. This would entail bringing together the best features of both countries — and in this regard Tunisia as well — to exploit complementary features in their economies, build broad human capital capabilities to attract investors, and create more regional outlets for tourism, manufacturing, information technology, and other fields that can build jobs and attract investors. Yet, as Boukhars notes, beyond its strong military and security regimes, Algeria “struggles to drive, rather than react to, regional events. Observers usually attribute Algeria’s frustrated regional ambitions on its murky politics, wobbly oil-dependent economy and contentious relations with Morocco and France.” Broadening its political worldview with a contemporary economic strategy is critical if Algeria is to progress.

Boukhars is not alone in pointing out the importance of the next step, greater engagement with sub-Saharan Africa. He describes in some detail the array of soft power, and hard power when needed, that King Mohammed VI employs in Africa, achieving broad success. Algeria, on the other hand, has defined its role largely in security or hydrocarbon policies. Boukhars writes, “Algeria cannot realize its leadership goals by trying to monopolize the security agenda in the Sahel. Still, the country’s own political paralysis and stagnant hydrocarbon economy constitute another major constraint on its regional ambitions.”

The fifth step, greater regional integration, depends on building among the AMU players a common understanding of, and strategies for, actions that will most benefit their peoples and their countries. Unfortunately, with suspicion and innuendo being the common means of looking at their bilateral relations, each seeking to gain points at the other’s expense, there is little probability that the two countries will seek a modus vivendi that may satisfy the leadership and help enable the stability, security, and prosperity that both communities seek. One need only look at the plight of the Syrian refugees in the no-man’s land between Algeria and Morocco or the blame game regarding the continuation of the Rif demonstrations to recognize the challenges.

Boukhars sums it up this way. “Algeria cannot become a successful regional power if it continues to underperform domestically and clash, rather than collaborate, with its neighbors.” He draws a clear distinction with Morocco. “Morocco is illustrative of a rising power that has cannily deployed its soft power tools and domestic stability to its advantage. Now, the challenge for Rabat is to improve relations with its peers, as peace and stability in the region will require countries…[to] collaborate more efficiently.”

So, despite the best intentions of the WEF author, displaying the pragmatism and constructive engagement needed to move the AMU ahead will require extraordinary efforts from all five members, and especially Morocco and Algeria, if future challenges are to be overcome.

The post What to do with the Arab Maghreb Union? – Jean R. AbiNader appeared first on Morocco On The Move.

Categories: The moroccan press

Morocco Elected Vice-President of the UN Ocean Conference

The moroccan press - Tue, 06/06/2017 - 14:01

Morocco was elected, on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York, vice-president of the UN Ocean Conference.

The Kingdom was unanimously elected by the 193 members of the United Nations as vice-president of this high-level meeting.

Twelve other countries were elected as vice-presidents of the UN Ocean Conference.

Shortly before this election, Fiji and Sweden were elected Co-Presidents of the Conference.

Categories: The moroccan press

Morocco, Spain Ink MoU on Administrative and Technical Cooperation in Legal Field

The moroccan press - Tue, 06/06/2017 - 13:54

Morocco and Spain signed, on Monday in Rabat, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on administrative and technical cooperation in the legal field.

Initialled by justice minister Mohamed Aujjar and his Spanish peer Rafael Catala Polo, the agreement, which is part of the reinforcement of legal cooperation relations between Morocco and Spain, concerns visit exchange, and expertise and good practices sharing in order to support Morocco's judiciary reform.

Categories: The moroccan press

Morocco Airline Cancels Flights Via Doha To Arab States Over Qatar Dispute

Western Sahara Worldnews - Tue, 06/06/2017 - 09:59

US NEWS & WORLD REPORT
by Samia Errazzouki

A 787 Dreamliner jet painted in Royal Air Maroc livery, sits idle on the tarmac parking at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante Reuters

Moroccan airline Royal Air Maroc cancelled flights via Doha to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt after they severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, state news agency MAP and the airline’s customer service said on Tuesday.

MAP said Royal Air Maroc flights via Doha to those countries could not be guaranteed, and the airline’s customer service said flights would no longer be available.

“Royal Air Maroc apologizes to its clients for these inconveniences caused by a situation outside of its control,” it said in a statement.

In 2015, Qatar Airways and Royal Air Maroc announced a joint business agreement on services and expanded direct flights between the countries.

Morocco has refrained from taking sides in the dispute between Qatar and other Arab states. But some of the Gulf nations are close allies of Morocco, which is a member of the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen against the Iran-allied Shi’ite Houthi militia.

(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Gareth Jones)

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