Morocco PM to GCC investors: we are one family
Moroccan Prime Minister Albdelilah Benkirane highlighted Friday the historic ties between the North African kingdom and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states during the opening of the fourth edition of the Gulf-Moroccan Investment Forum held November 28-29 in Casablanca.
“Your forefathers brought Islam to Morocco,” Benkirane told the GCC delegation as he referred to Moulay Idriss the First who run away from oppression in the Middle East to take refuge in Morocco and become the country’s ruler.
“We are one family… Doing business must not rely on an instant win-win basis,” he said.
“It’s time for you to eye Morocco as priority business destination thanks to its stability,” he added.
The GCC includes the countries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.
Qatar’s minister of economy and commerce Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassem Al-Thani said that the cooperation between Morocco and the GCC is a good model which opens promising economic horizons, boosting trade and investment in construction, energy, industrial and service sectors between them.
In May 2011, the GCC announced that it would broaden its membership beyond the Gulf region to include Morocco and Jordan.
“Morocco’s strategic geographical location and wise vision in various Arab and Islamic affairs have made it a favourite choice for many investors from across the world,” said Sheikh Ahmed.
“GCC states came to Morocco to consolidate cooperation in business and trade due to its economic stability which is a key factor to attracting foreign investments,” he added.
Trade between Morocco and the GCC has soared by 235 percent between 2003 and 2013, reaching $3.3 billion, according to a report issued by the Moroccan Foreign Exchange Office last September.
GCC's investments in Morocco in 2013 reached 15.7 percent of the total foreign investment in the North African kingdom, with a total value of $710 million, stated the report.
GCC states are fourth on the list of countries exporting to Morocco, following Spain, France and the US, while ranking 23 on the list of countries importing from Morocco in 2013, noted the report.
However, Moroccan exports to the GCC declined by 25 percent in 2013, reaching $137 million compared to 1.6 $183 million in 2012.
Mohamed bin Obeid Al Mazrouei, President of the Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development, said that there were plenty of business opportunities in various sectors in Morocco, which would lure GCC investors to pour more money in the North African kingdom.
“GCC countries can benefit from Morocco’s strategic location as a gateway to Africa and its proximity to Europe,” said Mazrouei, stressing Morocco’s special trade agreements with European Union and the United States.
This year’s edition is held at the Sheraton Hotel in Casablanca under the slogan "strategic Moroccan-Gulf partnership: Casablanca's gate to Africa", with the participation of more than 500 businessmen and businesswomen from Morocco, the GCC and other countries.