This is the first time that France has called the southern port Moroccan, a move in favor of Morocco’s position on the Western Sahara file.
Rabat – The French embassy in Rabat announced on Thursday the establishment of CMA CGM agencies, France’s leading transport and logistics company, in all Moroccan ports, including Western Sahara’s Dakhla port. It announced that its agencies will operate in “all Moroccan ports” along both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, ranging from “Nador to Dakhla.”
Three major CMA CGM agencies are already in place at the Tangier, Casablanca, and Agadir ports.
France’s move appears to be an attempt to strengthen its presence in the Moroccan territory, particularly in Western Sahara. The CMA CGM presence will be France’s first unofficial representation in Dakhla
The decision may indicate moves towards French recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The settlement of the French logistics company in Dakhla comes after France shared its pro-Morocco position on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), reflecting its political readiness to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Last October, the French delegation to the UNSC labeled Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as a “serious and credible basis for discussions.”
In light of the recent developments in Morocco’s first diplomatic cause, Western Sahara, and the political momentum it gained with the US’ recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over its southern provinces, many called on France to follow suit.
This is mainly due to France’s historical role and its responsibility in the continuity of the conflict. Despite France’s lack of official recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, it voices that the Moroccan Autonomy Plan can be the basis for a political solution.
In January, French MP Bruno Fuchs of France’s largest party shared supportive remarks regarding the Western Sahara issue.
Morocco can “count on France” and “the conflict in the Sahara has lasted long enough and it must be brought to an end,” he said.
The parliamentarian for French President Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique En Marche! (LREM) party sees the US’ recognition as a positive step towards ending the conflict.
The decades-long bilateral relations between Morocco and France are characterized as friendly, with many win-win partnerships in a number of fields, including counter-terrorism, border security, trade, economy, and education.
In order to maintain its interests in Africa, in particular Morocco, and after the US’ recognition, France would benefit by explicitly aligning with the Moroccan stance.
France’s reluctance towards officially recognizing Morocco’s territorial integrity will undoubtedly shape the future of both countries’ relations.
France’s FDI in Morocco
From another perspective, the establishment of CMA CGM agencies in all Moroccan ports shows that France still holds the lion’s share of Moroccan foreign direct investments (FDI). France was Morocco’s biggest investor in 2017, contributing 27% to the total FDI that Morocco received.
However, France’s share in Morocco’s FDI was down by 31% compared to 2016 FDI figures.
The year 2020 has proven difficult for doing business worldwide. As nations across the globe experienced outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus and many entered into subsequent lockdowns, many investments were either halted or canceled.