On the eve of the Spanish-Moroccan summit in Rabat, the co-president of the economic council formed by Moroccan and Spanish employers’ associations, Adil Rais, is calling on Ibex 35 companies to invest in the Maghreb country in order to make Spain one of its main investors.
In an interview with EFE on the eve of the economic forum to be held tomorrow, which will kick off the High Level Meeting (RAN) of both countries, Rais laments that Spain ranks fifth on the list of investor countries, with a flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of only 1.4 billion dirhams (126 million euros) in the first nine months of 2022.
“We want Spain to invest more. It ranks only fifth in FDI. It’s a pity, we hope that there will be more Spanish investment, especially from companies that are not very present in Morocco, which are those of the Ibex 35,” says the Moroccan head of the Spain-Morocco Economic Council (CEMAES).
Rais explains that Spanish investments represent only 4.5% of total FDI until September 2022, behind France, the United States, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. “Most of the 800 Spanish companies in Morocco are SMEs. We want Spain to move from fifth to at least second position, to have not only commercial relations but also financial relations and important investments,” he insists.
Two interdependent economies
Most of the Spanish SMEs present in Morocco operate in the agricultural sector (especially in Larache and Agadir), in the automotive industry (in the industrial acceleration zone of Tangiers and Kenitra), in banking (with the presence of Banco Santander, Sabadell and La Caixa) and in the hotel and catering sector, where an increase in Spanish investment has been observed in the last two years.
In addition, the co-president of CEMAES explains that trade and economic relations between Spain and Morocco were not affected by the year-long bilateral diplomatic crisis, which began in April 2021 and ended in March 2022 with the change in Spain’s position on the Western Sahara conflict.
Trade exchanges reached 19 billion euros in the first nine months of 2022, stresses the Moroccan official, who adds that imports from Spain increased by 28 % compared to the reference year of 2019, exceeding 10 billion euros. As for exports of Moroccan products to Spain, they recorded an increase of 16 % compared to 2019, to €8 billion.
“There is an improvement in trade and economic relations despite this hiatus of political misunderstanding. The two business communities are close, the two economies are interdependent. We see it in the textile, agriculture and fisheries sectors,” Rais affirms. For the representative of the Moroccan employers’ association, “these are very strong links established over the last twenty years that have not been disturbed by politics”.
Developing the circular economy
On the other hand, Rais indicates that CEMAES – created in 2013 as a result of the collaboration between the Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations (CEOE) and its Moroccan counterpart General Confederation of Moroccan Companies (CGEM) – also aims to boost the presence of Moroccan companies in Spain and activate the arbitration system between the two countries.
This is the intention of this body for February, which will organise actions in the different Spanish autonomous communities in order to publicise Morocco, its political system, the companies established in one way or another and the investment conditions.
“We will also make Spain better known here, specifically to companies in Casablanca and Rabat that have less contact with Spanish companies,” he adds. The Moroccan official highlights the possible collaboration in circular economy, one of the growing fields after the pandemic, and affirms that Spain “can contribute ideas, means and technical solutions for this industry to develop in Morocco”.
Textiles are also among the sectors that Morocco wants to develop with Spain, especially in the upstream processes with a view to establishing the manufacture of fabric and accessories in the Maghreb country. Nowadays, the fabric comes from Asia or Turkey. “We want to manufacture fabric and the idea is to do it in Spanish-Moroccan joint ventures. We want two-headed companies based on Moroccan and Spanish capital to create labour in both countries,” he explains.
Rais will speak tomorrow, together with his counterpart in CEMAES, Clemente González, at the economic forum that will kick off the RAN, along with the Ministers of Industry of both countries, Ryad Mezur and Reyes Maroto, and the Moroccan Minister of Economy, Nadia Fettah Alaui. It will be closed by the heads of government of the two countries, Aziz Ajanuch and Pedro Sánchez.
Source : Atalayar