Morocco aims to attract more investment from Gulf states

DUBAI: K.T. Abdurabb | Arab News Staff

Morocco aims to strengthen its trade and economic partnerships with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

AbbouMohammed Abbou, minister of industry, trade,investment and digital economy of Morocco, told Arab News that his country has plans to build more ports, airports, highways, rail and express ways to attract more investment from the Gulf and Middle East.

“Morocco is a platform for Europe, Middle East, Africa and ideally situated as an export platform for the EU market, US East Coast and other markets. Moreover, we have a dynamic and growing industry with a liberal and beneficial policy to the investments,” he added.

“The UAE is the second largest food market in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), just behind Saudi Arabia. We have strong trade relationships with Saudi Arabia and we intend to increase it in the future through various accords,” added Abbou, who is currently in Dubai to participate Gulfood exhibition.

“This show, Gulfood, is considered one of the most important events in the sector of food and beverages in the Middle East, constituting the preferred meeting place for traders and buyers in the food processing industry. More than 65 Moroccan companies are participating this event with a wide range of Moroccan products, including fresh fish and seafood, marinated fish, frozen fish, canned fish and anchovies, canned vegetables, frozen fruits, olive oil, argan, couscous and pasta, juices and beverages, spices, tea and infusion, margarine, chocolate and candy,” he explained.

He said that the UAE imports totaled $3.6 billion in 2010 and expected to reach $5.5 billion in 2015. The majority of these imports is negotiated through Dubai. The UAE ports represent a majority of 61 percent of the volume of trade between the GCC countries.

“To boost exports to the Middle East, we intend to tackle two fronts: Diversification and gain new market share,” he said.

“ Today, in a challenging international environment, the characteristic of the target countries is that they are all experiencing strong growth in comparison with the rest of the world over a large potential for import. However, there is a great potential in several areas. Each country wants a commercial platform with expanded retail networks, multinationals and renowned businesses. The challenge of Morocco is to play synergies between Morocco as a hub of the Maghreb, the various FTAs signed and these import-export platforms to the Mashrek. Among the sectors and supply represented through this mission include services, leather & textile, food processing, seafood, the pharmaceutical industry, construction and information technology,” he said.

Figures indicate that the UAE imports about 90 percent of their food needs and raw materials. Imports of food products amounted to AED19.6 billion. Its main suppliers are India, the United States, Brazil, Iran, Pakistan, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Argentina. The peculiarity of the market of UAE is that nearly 50 percent of imported food products are exported to 160 countries.

“The food processing industry remains a strategic sector in Morocco because of its crucial role in the economic, social and environmental angles. In fact, this sector contributes on average 16 percent of GDP through its agricultural upstream and 4% with respect to agroindustrial downstream for about 10 percent to total exports and nearly 44 percent of employment,” Abbou added.