Rabat – In an onslaught of recent articles, representatives of Senegalese businesses, labor unions, and civil society have called to block Morocco’s potential entrance into the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The opponents claim that Morocco’s admission into ECOWAS would undermine local businesses and products, which would have no chance when competing with their Moroccan counterparts.
“Morocco is knocking at ECOWAS‘s door,” wrote Senegalese online media outlet Dakar-Presse, quoting a local union of businesses and labor syndicates. The article insists that this door should not be opened, or otherwise it will signal the death of “the weak economies of the west African zone.”
The Initiative Committee for Integration Monitoring (CISI), an organization that groups together businesses, labor unions, university professors, and NGOs, also voiced its opposition to Morocco’s admission to ECOWAS, saying they would rather see it as partner than a member of the bloc.
“The Moroccan economy is very competitive,” said CISI head Zator Kane Diallo. “We oppose unbalanced relations that would suffocate our economy, destroy whole pillars of our productive sector, and export our jobs to Morocco.”
Diallo added that the CISI is due to release a report on Tuesday detailing the projected impact of Morocco’s ECOWAS membership on local economic sectors.
The committee explained to Dakar-Presse that the sectors that will mostly affected by this membership are “agriculture, industry, handicraft, commerce, services as well construction of buildings and infrastructure.”
The competitiveness of products coming from Morocco arises also from the fact that the kingdom has signed free trade agreements with several countries, explained Mor Talla Kane, the executive director the Conseil National des Employeurs du Sénégal (CNES), a local union of businesses.
“How can we identify their products? Technically, it’s impossible,” he said.
Morocco’s plan to join the West African organizations faces opposition beyond Senegal, which for decades has been one of the closest countries to Morocco in the continent. Criticisms are also coming from Nigeria, a country with which Morocco has only recently improved relations, especially after the two sides agreed to build a gas pipeline across the western African Atlantic coast and increase cooperation in fertilizers.
While some of Morocco’s detractors in Nigeria have issued similar economic arguments to those in Senegal, the country’s hardcore Polisario Front supporters point to Abuja’s historical support of the separatist organization and claim that Rabat is seeking to challenge the oil-rich country’s influence in ECOWAS and the African Union.