After signing four cooperation agreements, Guinea-Bissau’s foreign minister reiterated her country’s unconditional support for Morocco’s territorial integrity in Western Sahara.
Rabat – Morocco and Guinea-Bissau are beginning a new era of economic cooperation with the signing of four agreements related to industry, energy, tourism and transport, and logistics.
Guinea-Bissau’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Suzi Carla Barbosa signed the agreements Wednesday with her Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, while on a working visit to Rabat.
The visit follows the opening of the Moroccan Embassy in Bissau on Monday. “Opening up this diplomatic representation in our country shows the new dynamics of Guinea-Bissau’s proactive economic diplomacy,” the Bissau-Guinean Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on Facebook.
The West African country’s economic diplomacy in Morocco received another boost Wednesday as Bourita and Barbosa agreed to several mutually beneficial partnerships.
The first agreement is an industrial cooperation protocol, according to Morocco’s state media. It aims to promote cooperation by encouraging private initiatives and the exchange of experience and expertise in industrial policy.
Morocco and Guinea-Bissau’s second economic agreement concerns cooperation in the energy sector. The two countries intend to share experiences and know-how in the fields of electricity, renewable energies, and energy efficiency.
Tourism is the focus of the third agreement. The partnership allows Morocco and Guinea-Bissau to take the necessary measures to strengthen tourism exchanges and promote cooperation between their central tourism bodies, their national tourism and transport establishments, and their tourism agencies and professional associations.
The fourth and final cooperation agreement relates to the logistics sector, seeking to create a mutually beneficial partnership between Morocco and Guinea-Bissau. At its core, the text aims to make logistics a lever of competitiveness, ease logistics flows, and promote rapprochement between the two countries’ industrial sector actors.
Picking up 2015’s momentum
The Moroccan foreign minister said the signing reflects Morocco and Guinea-Bissau’s commitment to economic cooperation.
“We have seen a total convergence of views,” Bourita said after speaking with Barbosa, adding that the meeting reinforced the “deep friendship” between the two countries.
Relations between Morocco and Guinea-Bissau become “stronger and more solid” with each diplomatic visit, Barbosa said.
She emphasized that her country is keen to strengthen ties with Morocco even further by increasing the presence of Moroccan companies in Guinea-Bissau. The two countries’ plans to develop economic cooperation also include the future launch of a direct Royal Air Maroc flight between Morocco and Guinea-Bissau.
Barbosa also thanked King Mohammed VI for Morocco’s humanitarian and medical aid initiative that supported Guinea-Bissau and more than a dozen other African countries in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
King Mohammed VI visited Guinea-Bissau in 2015, consolidating Morocco’s interest in strengthening relations with the West African country. The visit allowed for the launch of concrete bilateral cooperation on socio-economic projects in several sectors including health, drinking water, and agricultural development.
Recalling the King’s visit during the press conference with Barbosa on Wednesday, Bourita emphasized that Morocco is “a long-standing credible partner of Guinea-Bissau” and has played “a supporting role in efforts for peace, stability, and development” in the country.
Morocco “remains always ready to accompany Guinea-Bissau in its process of development, consolidation of peace, and stability,” the Moroccan diplomat said.
Guinea-Bissau is one of Morocco’s West African supporters in the territorial dispute over Western Sahara.
Barbosa again reiterated her country’s support for Morocco’s territorial integrity, echoing statements Bissau-Guinean officials and diplomats have made for several years.
“Morocco can count on the support of the Bissau-Guinean government within international and African bodies, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),” she said of the Western Sahara question.
After signing the economic cooperation agreements with Barbosa, Bourita thanked Guinea-Bissau for its support for Morocco’s position in Western Sahara and its unconditional recognition of the Autonomy Plan as the only solution to the dispute.
In light of Barbosa’s visit, some local media are suggesting Guinea-Bissau may be the next African state to inaugurate a diplomatic representation in southern Morocco. Ten African countries have done so in either Dakhla or Laayoune.
Liberia, Djibouti, The Gambia, and Guinea inaugurated general consulates in Dakhla at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. Cote D’Ivoire, Burundi, Gabon, Central African Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, and Comoros opened general consulates in Laayoune during the same period.
The diplomatic representations serve to support Morocco’s territorial integrity in Western Sahara and symbolize the countries’ recognition of Moroccan sovereignty.
Algeria and Polisario have argued that the openings are “flagrant violations.” Moroccan diplomacy, in response, has vowed that more countries will open consulates in the region.