Three journalists, along with the host of the program, asked several questions on the recent developments on FTA, maritime borders, and energy sector.
Journalist Youssef Belhaissi opened his interview with Rebbah with a discussion on the decision of Morocco’s parliament to adopt two draft bills, allowing the country to redefine its maritime borders.
Rebbah echoed the official position of Morocco’s government with regards to the decision, saying that the country has full sovereignty to delimit its borders and acted within international law.
“Sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of countries are three sacred principles through which Morocco maintains in its foreign policies,” said the official.
The delimitation of maritime borders opens enormous opportunities in terms of investments and economy, the minister said.
Local news outlets speculated about a dormant volcano on the sea bed, rich with minerals and natural resources. The official has not denied the possibility of the existence of important minerals in the maritime zone, but said that it would require scientific and geographical research to find out.
“We made a decision that any geographical discovery made should be made public,” Rebbah said.
Rebbah also commented on Morocco’s decision to review the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Turkey.
Asked if the Justice and Development Party (PJD) distanced itself from the decision because of its proximity and good relations with Turkey, Rebbah described the reports as false rumors.
“Any move taken by a minister is in line with the government’s policies and not political parties,” he said.
The government defends its political interests “whatever the nature of the relationship we have with countries,” he argued.
Morocco’s Minister of Industry Moulay Hafid Elalamy voiced the negative aspects about the current status of the FTA with Turkey. He said Morocco loses $2 billion annually due to the FTA agreement.
The statements urged a trade delegation from Turkey to come to Morocco to try to save the deal with Morocco. The delegation met with Elalamy and a delegation of businessmen. The meeting concluded with both parties agreeing to review the deal.
The countries have until the end of the month to find a solution to maintain the agreement or dissolve it in case no agreement is reached.
“We signed several FTAs with many countries. We of course review these agreements in case of lack of balance.”
The televised program invites young journalists working for several local news outlets to participate.
One of the points brought up by the young journalists was the energy sector and the outcomes of Rebbah’s department.
Rebbah said that the renewable energy sector continues to grow and make notable achievements.
“We made enormous investments in the sector estimated at MAD 100 billion,” he said.
One of the achievements made by the sector is a renewable energy factory in Tangier. The new factory created job opportunities for more than 700 Moroccans.
The minister also discussed Morocco’s approach to producing its own electricity. The minister said the country managed to produce 34% of its electricity.
Morocco seeks to produce 42% of its electricity by 2021.
In terms of minerals, the minister said Morocco is one of the most phosphate rich countries in the world.
We have other minerals, but not as large as phosphate production.
“We produce 135 kilogram of gold in a year,” he said.
The ministry said that Morocco has some gas in the west of the country and Essaouira that locals use.
He also recalled that the government has made an agreement with Sound Energy, a British company specializing in gas discovery.
The company is now searching for gas in Tendrara, in Figuig, eastern Morocco for gas.
The company already expressed satisfaction with its discoveries in the region. Earlier this month, Sound Energy said the Moroccan government has approved a pipeline project
The company is seeking to build and operate a 120-kilometer 20-inch gas pipeline to connect a “proposed gas treatment plant and compression station (CPF) to the Gazoduc Maghreb Europe pipeline (GME).”
The Maghreb Europe pipeline runs from western Algeria, through Morocco, to southern Spain.
Rift within PJD
The minister said that it is quite normal to see rifts within the political sphere, citing political issues in the US and European countries.
Belhaissi, the host of the program, talked about the PJD, asking whether the party still has the spirit to prepare for an election next year.
The journalist said that some people find the PJD, the leading party in the government, has become a place where people with opinions are “oppressed.”
“The party still has the same spirit,” said the minister, denying the rumors.
“Those are lies, the party is strong because of its democratic approach.”
Rebbah vowed that he would resign from the party if another member were fired or forced to step down due to differing opinions.
The minister also denied the news about a rift between him and former head of government and ex Secretary-General of the PJD, Abdelilah Benkirane.
“It is a shame to read what is written in some electronic news outlets,” Rebbah regretted.
Some local news outlets alleged that Benkirane refused to shake hands with Rebbah in a funeral in Kenitra.
“It is a shame for people to create such false news in the context of a funeral.”
The official said that what matters is what the government is doing in public sectors, and not the relationship between officials and MPs. “These issues are minor,” he said.