By Siham Ali
By Siham Ali
Rabat, July 18, 2013
King Juan Carlos of Spain led a delegation of Spanish government officials and business leaders to Morocco this week.
Ways to improve economic and security collaborations topped the agenda of the 3-day state visit, which ended on Thursday (July 18th).
Morocco wants to boost foreign investment, while Spain is seeking a way of rescuing its crisis-stricken economy. Both parties wish to explore the African and Latin American markets together.
Spain also wants to raise its profile in Morocco. Spain wants to compete with France, Morocco’s biggest trading partner, by forming more partnerships. The Spanish delegation’s visit forms part of this effort.
Nearly 1,000 Spanish companies – mostly SMEs – are currently operating successfully in Morocco and are seeking to expand their activities, CEOE (Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Organizations) Secretary-General José Maria Lacasa said.
General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM) President Miriem Bensalah-Chaqroun hailed the signing of a partnership agreement between the two employers’ organisations.
“We have signed a co-operation agreement intended to support the new Moroccan-Spanish Economic Council,” Miriem Bensalah-Chaqroun said. “The goal is to work on shared competitiveness and the different synergies that we can develop, and to focus on a number of target continents in order to establish a new bloc made up of Europe, through Spain, Africa through Morocco, and Latin America so as to create significant growth.”
Reinforcing security collaboration between the two countries was also a top priority.
The Moroccan and Spanish governments both face the same region-specific security challenges. Moroccan Minister-Delegate for Foreign Affairs Youssef Amrani welcomed the level of bilateral security co-operation achieved.
Moroccan Interior Minister Mohand Laenser and Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz met in Rabat on Tuesday to discuss major security issues. The geographical locations of the two countries mean that many challenges need to be addressed jointly, they concurred.
“Spain is Europe’s outer border, and without fruitful co-operation with Morocco, addressing security threats would be impossible,” Fernandez Diaz told the press.
“Security co-operation has had a positive impact on efforts to curb terrorism, drug trafficking and illegal immigration,” Laenser said.
The two ministers arranged to meet again in Madrid in October.
“Both countries are championing a joint approach to security,” political analyst Mehdi Cherkaoui said. “In operational terms, both countries are co-operating in the battle against drug trafficking, terrorism and illegal immigration.”
“It is known that this co-operation is coming along nicely but needs to be strengthened further because of the growing threats to security,” he added.
Thus far, Cherkaoui noted, Spain has co-operated more closely with Morocco than with other countries of the Maghreb. Yet collaboration between the two countries still needs to be boosted given the dangers posed to the region by criminal gangs.