Morocco and China on Wednesday signed the convention relating to the joint implementation of the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI). For the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nssacer Bourita, this Plan constitutes a complete tool for the strengthening of the bilateral partnership.
In a speech during the signing ceremony organized by videoconference, Bourita said that this plan sets up a well-thought-out framework, with clear principles and solid mechanisms, as well as providing a comprehensive tool for strategic management and the concrete deployment of a global partnership ranging from political dialogue to cross-sectoral cooperation.
This cooperation, called to move to a higher level of structured engagement, relates in particular to infrastructure, trade, investments, industry, education, science and technology, green development and health, recalled the Minister, noting that this ceremony is an opportunity to show the place of China in the diplomatic priorities of the Kingdom.
In this regard, he affirmed that Morocco and China, under the leadership of King Mohammed VI and the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, have entered a new era in their bilateral relations, specifying that the he friendship between the two countries is rooted in a long and rich history of people-to-people exchanges, just as it is based on long-standing diplomatic relations, which date back to 1958 and have grown steadily since.
Over the years, the two countries have built trust, while relying on respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and active solidarity, he said, noting that the royal visit in May 2016 in Beijing, was a founding moment and led to the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Establishment of the Strategic Partnership.
This document gave an unprecedented boost to the Morocco-China friendship, through tangible results, he noted.
The minister cited, as an example, a solid 50% growth in trade over the past five years (from $ 4 billion in 2016 to $ 6 billion in 2021) and a substantial increase in Chinese investment, with more than 80 projects underway throughout the Kingdom, including the Mohammed VI Tangier Tech City megaproject – initiated in April 2019 in Beijing, on the sidelines of the “Belt and Road” forum.
Bourita also highlighted the 20-fold increase in the tourism sector, following the Royal decision to exempt Chinese citizens from the visa requirement (June 2016): 200,000 Chinese visitors in 2018 against only 10,000 in 2015.
He also recalled that in November 2017, Morocco signed the memorandum of understanding on the “Belt and Road”, and became the first Maghreb country – and one of the very first in Africa – to join the Initiative.
On another note, the Minister stressed that far from being hampered by the pandemic, the strategic partnership sealed in 2016 by the King and the Chinese President has proven to be resilient, observing that the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid- 19 gave new impetus to this partnership and demonstrated that solidarity and coherence are structural and lasting components of the relationship between the two countries.
Morocco greatly appreciates the responsiveness and willingness of the Chinese authorities to meet the Kingdom’s needs in terms of purchasing medical and protective equipment, he said.
Nasser Bourita further noted that the Belt and Road initiative opens up new prospects for trade and investment, and brings additional opportunities in line with the Kingdom’s New Development Model.
This initiative will also benefit from Morocco’s dynamic contribution, thanks to its political stability, its strategic positioning, its economic openness, its sectoral potential and its connectivity, he said.
It should be noted that the Convention, signed by the Moroccan minister and the vice-president of the Chinese National Commission for Reform and Development (NDRC), Ning Jizhe, aims to promote access to Chinese funding provided for by the Belt initiative. and the Road (Belt and Road Initiative – BRI) for the realization of large-scale projects in Morocco or for the facilitation of trade, the establishment of joint ventures in various fields (industrial parks, energies, including renewable energies) .