Morocco begins a ‘roadtrip’ through the autonomous communities to attract Spanish investors
Relations between Spain and Morocco have experienced a strong boost since the Government changed the country’s historical position regarding the Sahara. A turn that led to a joint declaration in Rabat to “build a relationship on more solid foundations” and of which the balance, in economic terms, is positive. The country has become Spain’s third trading partner outside the European Union, with exports worth 100,000 million euros in 2022 and more than 19,000 regular exporting companies -which have been making shipments for four years without interruption-. However, the number of companies that invest in Morocco is much smaller, around 1,000as pointed out this Monday by the co-president of CEMAES Spain, Clemente González, so the North African nation seems determined to work along these lines.
The different political and business representatives who have participated in the meeting ‘Invest in Morocco for common prosperity’ held at CEOE, have coincided in highlighting that the main obstacle for Spanish companies to decide to invest on the other side of the Strait is the lack of knowledge about the country and its economic sectors. For this reason, Morocco has decided to provide a solution through its employer, CGEM. The co-president of CEMAES Morocco, Adil Rais, has shared at the event that its short-term strategy consists of approaching each of the autonomous communities to “tell what Morocco is like” and invite these regions to get to know the country as an investment opportunity, which allows the growth of both partners.
The Government of Morocco has designed 12 strategic sectors in which it is especially interested in attracting these investments for the development of the country, since, as stated by the head of Government in charge of Investment, Convergence and Evaluation of Public Policies for Morocco, Mohcine Jazouli, the Executive has proposed to create 100,000 jobs until 2026. But for Pedro Sánchez’s team it is not a minor issue either, so has injected 800 million euros for the development of Spanish projects of energy, water, transport, logistics, agri-food industry and innovation as part of the Horizon Africa Strategy, in which the country in the north of the continent plays a predominant role.
Morocco, producer of proximity or ‘nearshoring’
Unlike what happens in Spain, the industrial sector plays an important role in Morocco’s GDP and represents 29.1% of the total in 2021 -compared to 15.3% in Spain- and the country wants to take advantage of this situation . The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have accelerated a change in business mentality that had been in sight for years, companies they no longer want to produce hundreds of thousands of kilometers because of the complications it entails in terms of transportation costs, pollution, and exposure to political disputes between non-allied countries. Instead, they opt for strategic autonomy, that is, that production be local or if, on the other hand, it is outsourced, it is done in nearby countries through ‘nearshoring’.
This trend, in which the production chains are getting shorter, constitutes an opportunity for Morocco with respect to Spain, but also with the rest of the countries of the European Union, which is its main supplier and customer in the international market. The African country aspires to be the ‘hub’ of local production, so has set up a network of institutions to accompany companies that decide to invest in the territory, distributed by the most important cities such as Marrakech, Casablanca or Rabat. In addition, as it is a matter of mutual interest, the Spanish Government has specific advisory services within the Secretary of State for Trade, as its manager, Xiana Méndez, has recalled.
The Secretary of State has stressed that the relationship between Spain and Morocco is “complementary”, which is why it is beneficial for both countries, by producing value chains. Méndez has described the North African country as “a fundamental strategic partner” for entry into other countries of the continent and has pointed out that the investment “although it could be improved, is not negligible”. Currently, there are 669 Spanish companies with at least 10% of the capital of companies under Moroccan law and 527 Moroccan companies that are subsidiaries of Spanish companies -that is, they own more than 50% of their capital-. Some numbers that have suffered hardly any changes in the last half year.