The minister believes the COVID-19 pandemic has shown Morocco can locally manufacture most of the products it usually imports and that its products can compete in international markets.
Rabat – Morocco’s Minister of Industry Moulay Hafid Elalamy said on Wednesday that Morocco could be “an important” piece of the puzzle of industrial competitiveness and production in Europe.
“We have significant production and engineering capacities that can be used to make Europe even more competitive, obviously by recovering some of what is done outside,” he said in an interview with Euronews on June 17.
Elalamy stressed Europe must not close in on itself but rather expand its long-term reliable partners to improve market competitiveness.
“There has to be relocation. There has been a lot of relocation, in Asia in particular. Today, we are able to review this partnership together so that it is mutually beneficial,” the minister said.
He offered the example of Morocco’s export of face masks to Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic as evidence of the North African country’s potential to boost competitiveness across the Mediterranean.
After meeting the domestic market’s demand in April, Morocco authorized the export of face masks, starting with hard-hit countries in Europe. At least 16 Moroccan companies now export masks to Europe and 24 companies have exported 18.5 million masks worldwide as of June 9.
King Mohammed VI’s strategic decisions during the pandemic, Elalamy continued, demonstrated Morocco’s ability to sustain itself with domestic production and its effective regulation of market supply.
“We have had very clear instructions for the issue of supply. Morocco did not lack anything. Worldwide, we have been surprised to see empty shelves. It was not the case in Morocco, because we have put the necessary means at this level,” he said.
Morocco has maintained sufficient food and energy stocks since the onset of the pandemic and increased its agricultural exports by 8% in the first five months of 2020 thanks to Moroccan products’ favorable prices in international markets.
The industry minister also underlined Morocco’s proactive adaptation to the new market demands the pandemic introduced.
“We have produced masks and hydroalcoholic gel and set up an ethanolate plant in seven days. There was also the creation of very high-level artificial respirators. We have transparently discovered a Moroccan youth with innovative capacities and very high engineering abilities, which encouraged us to support them even more,” Elalamy explained.
The minister added that Morocco carried out its operation to send medical aid to several African countries “in record time.”
The initiative to provide African states with “substantial quantities of masks, gels, protective visors, hygiene caps, medical gowns, and medicines” is further evidence of Morocco’s capacity to not only sustain itself but lend support to its allies during an unprecedented pandemic.
Last month, Elalamy stressed that COVID-19 has shown Morocco can locally manufacture most of the products it usually imports—Moroccans need only “be aware of their skills and competencies.”
“To be honest, I have been monitoring several sectors for years, but I never imagined what we were able to achieve during the pandemic,” the industry minister said on May 15.
“I used to have a debate with businessmen who think that the country does not have highly-skilled workers and with people who believe that all imported products will be of better quality,” he continued, offering examples contradicting such stereotypes.
“The face masks we produce, and which many [Moroccans] criticized, were tested by foreigners who found that they respect universal medical standards,” he said. “Do we always need foreign approval before we believe in ourselves?”
At the end of his speech at the House of Representatives, Elalamy urged Moroccans to believe in their abilities and to work hard: “The path that we should follow in the next months and years is very important.”