Morocco welcomes AfCFTA but insists that meeting the continent’s numerous challenges will require effective coordination mechanisms and solidarity among AU member states.
Rabat – Morocco has reiterated its commitment to the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, saying intra-African trade is a strategic pillar of economic development and integration.
AfCFTA is an ongoing initiative to integrate all member states of the African Union (AU) into a cohesive free trade area.
Saturday marked the 13th Extraordinary Summit of the AU on the AfCFTA agreement. African leaders convened via videoconference for the summit with the view of considering and approving the official launch of the start of the free trade area under the continental agreement on January 1, 2021.
During the summit, the Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohcine Jazouli, recalled that Morocco signed an agreement in Kigali concerning the creation of the Free Trade Zone on March 21, 2018. The country is in the final stage of ratifying this agreement, which will allow the deployment of King Mohammed VI’s “vision for Africa,” Morocco’s state media reported.
Jazouli also announced that Morocco has decided to make the socio-economic development of Africa one of its foreign policy priorities.
Africa receives two-thirds of Morocco’s foreign direct investment (FDI), with the country investing more than $3 billion in the continent since 2008. Morocco is currently the largest African investor in West Africa and the second-largest African investor across the continent.
Jazouli said he is confident that January 1, 2021, will mark a historic date for Africa. AfCFTA, “for all of us Africans, is a new step on the way to the unity and integration of the continent.”
“This new space which we create together,” he continued, holds the possibility of transforming Africa’s raw materials and accelerating “the implementation of an African industrial base to meet our needs.”
According to the Moroccan minister delegate, AfCFTA will unleash “African creative genius” and facilitate intra-regional trade and integration.
The continent suffers from several economic weaknesses that the Free Trade Area hopes to mitigate, including a 16% rate of trade between African countries, industrialization of less than 2% in the global manufacturing value-added, and dependence on raw materials.
But adequately responding to all these challenges, Jazouli insisted, will require effective coordination mechanisms and solidarity among AU member states.
Intra-African trade is “one of the main engines of economic development which allows job creation, poverty reduction, and the resilience of states and regions in the face of possible economic crises,” he said.