After 20 Valencian companies visited Morocco last week, the president of Valencia said a presence in Morocco is essential for further African operations.
Rabat – After a visit to Morocco last week, the president of Spain’s Autonomous Community of Valencia, Ximo Puig, has said the region needs “a greater relationship with Morocco.”
All of the meetings in Morocco were “extraordinarily positive,” Puig said in an interview with state-owned news outlet Maghreb Arab Press. The official headed a delegation of 20 companies to Morocco from February 16 to 19.
The trip highlighted “more partnership opportunities in Morocco” than the delegation had expected. Trade between Valencia and Morocco, Puig added, is worth €1.2 billion, representing a significant portion of Morocco’s trade with Spain.
Currently, 2,900 Valencian companies “have commercial relations with Morocco,” Puig explained.
The Valencian delegation focused on potential areas of cooperation in transport, tourism, and industry. Valencian officials also promoted a partnership agreement with the Casablanca-Settat region.
Puig also emphasized Morocco’s role as “the best gateway to Africa.” If Valencian companies operate in Morocco, it “opens the way for us to the African market,” the president said.
“We are more aware than ever that it is important to be present in Morocco,” Puig added.
Valencia CF, the Spanish region’s successful football club, opened a football academy in Marrakech last week, its first in Africa. The academy’s purpose is to seek out football talent in the ochre city.
“As a club, we want to help the youngest to develop according to the Valencia CF methodology,” said academy director Luis Martinez.
Turbulent times for Morocco and Spain
The delegation’s visit comes at a time when relations between the two countries are experiencing an undercurrent of tension.
The Moroccan Parliament passed two laws defining its maritime border and area of economic control to include the maritime area overlapping with Spain’s Canary Islands. The passage of the laws brought Spain’s foreign minister, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, to Rabat in January.
Morocco has also moved to end the smuggling of goods from the Spanish enclave city of Ceuta into Morocco since October. Moroccan officials explained that “human mules” carried goods into Morocco without paying import taxes, hurting the Moroccan economy.
Last week, Spanish coalition party Podemos received a delegation from Polisario and tweeted about the party’s “solidarity with the Sahrawi people.” Foreign minister Laya affirmed on Monday that Spain does not support Podemos in its position on the Polisario Front.