As Morocco forges new trade partnerships, the EU now finds itself facing increased competition in Morocco’s expanding economic sphere, says a new study by the European Union Institute for Security Studies.
“While the EU remains Morocco’s largest trading partner, Morocco has sought to diversify its trade relations, with the result that the EU now has to compete with other external players with which the kingdom has forged bilateral ties,” the study says.
What adds to the challenge for the EU is Morocco’s burgeoning trade partnership with Russia. Over the past 25 years, exports have surged at an annual rate of 13.1%, with imports rising by 6.98%.
During the Ukraine crisis, Morocco’s diesel imports from Russia increased significantly in the first quarter of 2023, cementing Morocco’s position as Russia’s third-largest trading partner in Africa.
Morocco’s trade dynamics have traditionally been dominated by imports, with refined petroleum and gas playing a crucial role in meeting its energy needs.
The country has been actively diversifying its energy sources, aiming to achieve 50% of its electricity requirements from hydro, wind, and solar power by 2030.
Morocco’s embrace of the energy transition has attracted foreign direct investment, innovation, and climate protection initiatives, aligning closely with Europe’s vision.
The EU recognizes that once Morocco meets its domestic energy needs, it can potentially become a crucial supplier of green energy to Europe. This strategic advantage positions Morocco as a pivotal partner in the EU’s pursuit of its climate protection goals.
Morocco’s significant mineral reserves and mining potential can play a pivotal role in supporting the development of essential green energy sources, such as cobalt for electric vehicle batteries and green fertilizer.
As Morocco’s trade relationships continue to evolve and expand, the EU faces the dual challenge and opportunity of increased competition and a shifting trade landscape.
Morocco plays a vital role in enhancing security for nearby European allies like France and Spain by sharing intelligence and monitoring its borders. However, it appears that in recent times, both parties have evolved beyond this specific arrangement.
Morocco’s evolving frustration with its European partners, coupled with the changing global landscape and the emergence of new influential players like China, underscores the need for diversification in Morocco’s partnerships.
Morocco’s dissatisfaction with the EU results from two main factors. Firstly, it stems from changes that both the EU and the region have experienced in the past decade, including the rise of alternative geopolitical players. Secondly, it is influenced by the transformation of Morocco’s foreign policy which is more apparent in the Sahara issue where “Morocco wants unqualified support from the EU.”