Rabat – The 13th Morocco-Portugal High Level Meeting is bearing fruit. Digital economy, energy, automotive industry, textile and the modernization of the administration are the new sectors on which Morocco and Portugal intend to collaborate.
While still firmly focused on Africa, Morocco does not forget to strengthen its traditional partnerships, especially with European countries. Previously confined to unbalanced trade, the economic relationship between Morocco and Portugal is moving towards a deeper partnership with enhanced cooperation in several sectors. After the 13th Moroccan-French High-Level Meeting (NHN) in late November, a major diplomatic and economic meeting between Morocco and Portugal came to follow suit at the beginning of December.
On the occasion of the 13th High-Level Meeting between Morocco and Portugal on December 4 and 5, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and his Moroccan counterpart Saad Eddine El Othmani oversaw the signing of a list of new cooperations. More than 12 agreements and declarations of intent were signed by the officials of both parties, including a memorandum of understanding on triangular cooperation in third countries.
Despite the progress of trade between the two countries, the state of economic cooperation remains below the their ambitions. In 2016, Morocco was the 10th destination for Portuguese exports. Over the same year, the volume of these exports reached EUR 711.9 million, up 15 percent compared to 2012, while Portuguese imports of Moroccan products amounted to EUR 155 million.
The economic relations between Morocco and Portugal have evolved in recent years with a volume of trade of EUR 1.4 billion in 2016. Morocco is the largest trading partner of Portugal in the Arab world, and its second largest partner in Africa.
For its part, Portugal gained 8 places between 2014 and 2016 commercially with the kingdom. Portuguese operators are opting more and more for doing business in Morocco. To date, 200 Portuguese companies have established themselves in the kingdom in different sectors of activity.
Overall, the lines of cooperation seem particularly prolific for both parties. Energy, automotive, and textiles are, among others, the main sectors that have been the subject of intense exchanges recently between Morocco and Portugal.
In terms of energy cooperation, the project of an electricity interconnection line between Morocco and Portugal, with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts and whose feasibility study should be concluded before the end of this year, is a flagship project of bilateral cooperation.
Moreover, Portugal wants to capitalize on Morocco’s leadership in Africa. The Portuguese prime minister expressed his country’s willingness to form partnerships with Morocco to strengthen its presence in the African continent, where the kingdom “now plays a leading role” in several areas.
For Costa, the policy put in place by Morocco in the continent contributes greatly to the development of Africa. Employment is also a salient point for the two countries, which have decided to adopt a declaration of intention to cooperate in the fields of employment aimed at strengthening the sharing of experiences and expertise in the field.
Civil service and the modernization of the administration is also on the agenda, as the Portuguese experience in this area is quite conclusive. The Iberian country has put in place an integrated national strategy committing the state to its implementation at the highest level. In this regard, the two heads of state placed great emphasis on the Moroccan governmental program in the area of administrative reform, including digital transition.
In this sense, the two countries signed a cooperation protocol in the fields of the digital government and information technologies. “An agreement that aims in particular to promote eGovernment and the information society,” noted Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Minister of Industry, Investment, Trade and Digital Economy.
Elalamy also met with his Portuguese counterpart, Manuel Caldeira Cabral. Both stressed the importance of fostering rapprochement between Moroccan and Portuguese operators in sectors offering undeniable investment opportunities.
In this regard, they welcomed the signing last October of two agreements between the Moroccan Association for Industry and Automobile Trade and respectively the Portuguese Association of Manufacturers of the Automobile Industry and the Portuguese Association of the Mold Industry. These agreements aim to strengthen cooperation in the automotive sector.