Morrocan and Palestinian officials recently agreed to draft an economic agreement to boost trade and develop tourism between the two states.
Rabat – Palestinian Minister of National Economy Khalid al-Assaily and Moroccan Ambassador to Ramallah Mohammad Hamazawi met in late May to discuss a deal between the two countries.
The pact focused on investment, trade, and development between the North African country and its ally to the East. Morocco has long recognized Palestine’s sovereignty and aims to further economic ties with the state through the new agreement.
The officials discussed forming both a joint economic committee and a joint business council. These collectives will work to establish a framework increasing trade between the two counties.
Current Palestinian and Moroccan exports include perishables such as fruits, dates, and seafood products, as well as non-perishables like cars, and mosaic tiles.
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2017 Morocco exported seven times the number of goods to Palestine than Palestine exported to Morocco.
Allowing Palestinian merchants to sell goods directly to Moroccan markets would offer relief to businesses that have suffered under the 12-year Israeli blockade.
Two factors remain an obstacle to economic exchange between Morocco and Palestine: distance and similarity in exported goods.
While direct trade between the countries may not be the solution, the agreement could facilitate Palestinian companies in exporting their products to Arab and international markets.
However the agreement ultimately relies on government enforcement. “We need government follow-through so that this agreement doesn’t remain mere talk without action,” Palestine Trade Center chairman Arafat Asfour said to Al-Monitor.
The promise of an agreement was timely for Palestine. Earlier this year Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh enacted internal austerity measures after the country suffered a series of financial setbacks.
In February the United States drastically cut its aid package for the West Bank infrastructure programs and the Israeli government began restricting the transfer of Palestinian money.
Contrary to the US, historically Morocco has remained a supporter of Palestine and its people.
“Palestine is considered a national cause in Morocco.” Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine El Othmani said at a speech Arab Media Workshop on Palestine last year.
Currently Morocco does not recognize Israel as a state. The economic agreement is not the first time this year that leaders from the two countries came together for diplomatic reasons. In January officials met and discussed ways to “improve the ties of friendship, fraternity, and cooperation between Morocco and Palestine, particularly in the judicial field.”