Morocco, Spain vow further cooperation amid economic turmoil

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Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy holding talks with the Prime Minister of Morocco Abdelilah Benkirane. Photo – Government of Spain

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy led a top level delegation to Morocco to hold talks with Moroccan officials on economic ties in Rabat on Wednesday. The two Mediterranean neighbours harbour deep differences over several political and historical issues despite a friendship treaty signed two decades ago.

However, Rabat and Madrid are enjoying strong social and commercial ties since January when Spain became Morocco’s top economic partner, a spot that was occupied by France for many decades. Moroccan and Spanish officials insist that prospects for closer cooperation are promising.

“Morocco and Spain decided to inaugurate a new partnership with new tools, new instruments and a new vision. The vision is to reinforce our political dialogue and to give priority to business because today what is important is how to do business,” Youssef Lamrani, Morocco’s state minister for foreign affairs, said.

The Spanish minister welcomed the statement and said that the partnership will benefit both countries.

“We will bring our experience to Moroccan in the fields where there is a need and will also provide this country with the techniques we developed,” Migule Arias Canete, Spanish minister for agriculture and fisheries, said.

Spain has around 20,000 small and medium-sized businesses that export to Morocco and is keen to keep its share of the Moroccan market, a Reuters report said adding that the Moroccan business delegation was led by Miriem Bensaleh-Chaqroun, the chairperson of Confederation of Moroccan Entrepreneurs.

Poor rainfall and bad agricultural prospects this year forced the Moroccan government to revise its economic growth forecast to 4.2%, down from last year’s 4.9%.

Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane is attracting foreign investors by improving relations with trade unions and enforcing radical laws to fight corruption. He promised Spanish businessmen to do his best to provide them a better environment for business and investment.

Rajoy visited Rabat last January on his first visit since taking office and Benkirane returned the visit in May.

On Tuesday, the Spanish prime minister quashed speculation the country could apply for a bailout as soon as this weekend, but expectations are high that Spain will eventually request aid.

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