El Mehdi Fakir El Mehdi Fakir The Arab Weekly

Morocco in ECOWAS, The “Strategic Choice” Featured

News Reports / Friday, 02 February 2018 15:34

This was made known by him last week at a function in Tangier, organised by Rotay Duane Club and Northern Finance Club. With the theme "Morocco's accession to Cediao: Bets, Challenges and Opportunities", the debate session featured important dignitaries  with first hand knowledge and experience in Morocco’s ECOWAS policy initiative. In his presentation, Mr. El Mehdi Fakir explained to that Moroccan policy drive towards ECOWAS is being piloted along a well "paved road”.  According to him, the postponement of the Kingdom’s application to join ECOWAS may be considered a temporary delay which will be surmounted as the “Kingdom is ready to pursue its ECOWAS policy drive to the very end”. This policy choice, he explained, is buoyed by the visible “opportunities” ECOWAS membership holds out for Morocco. The Moroccan economist illustrated the benefits of  ECOWAS membership to Moroccan businesses, which in his words would avail these enterprises instant  access to a market of more than 300 million consumers. Inversely, Moroccan membership of the organisation would facilitate trade and increase the freedom of movement of people between Morocco and as many as 15 other countries who are already members of the organisation. Morocco’s membership of the organisation is set to increase the Gross Domestic Product of ECOWAS, of $730 billion - current estimate.

Speaking further, the economist declared that Morocco’s State policy planners are convinced that the Kingdom’s interest will be served better in ECOWAS as its membership of the organisation will open up ECOWAS to Morocco’s exports and credit investment. Mr. Fakir explained that already, ECOWAS represents one of the most Integrated regional economies in the African continent. Thus, in his view, the win-win situation promised in Morocco’s ascension to ECOWAS, may be viewed from the benefits membership of the organisation promises the country’s business community, and the value of Moroccan investment in business projects all over ECOWAS would engender, in terms of rapid expansion of intra ECOWAS trade. 

Aside from intra ECOWAS trade, free  movement of property and services remains another area Morocco’s membership of the community is expected to impact on. Already, major Moroccan insurance and trust companies have commissioned plans to open operations in Nigeria, ECOWAS main economic powerhouse, as well as Ghana, Senegal and a number of other ECOWAS member countries. International security in the Sahara and Sahelien Africa, which continues to threaten the existence of a number of important African countries, represents another dimension of closer cooperation between the Kingdom of Morocco and ECOWAS, as currently constituted. Morocco’s membership in ECOWAS will enable it to be integrated as part of the group’s security mechanism, as it applies to the imposition of international security in void which much of Sahara and Sahelien currently being exploited by armed rebels represents. 

However, El Mehdi Fakir pointed out that Morocco must be willing to work closely with ECOWAS on the organisation’s immigration policy. Morocco's membership of the organisation would oblige the Kingdom to accept its freedom of movement of citizens policy, as well as adopting ECOWAS passports and identity cards. This according to him represents a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.

On the economic level, he pointed out that setting a common external tariff similar to that in the ECOWAS since January 2015 would also be mandatory. This might seem challenging, especially as it fails to account for current conditions of fiscal policies and budget planning in individual member countries. According to him, this challenge becomes particularly poignant, in view of ECOWAS plan for the adoption of a single currency in 2020.

On the other hand, Al-Mahdi stressed the need for all conditions to achieve a sustainable development of Morocco's relations with Africa, especially by strengthening the competitiveness of the Moroccan offer, diversifying the activities of Moroccan groups in Africa and choosing appropriate patterns for integration into the African economy, With foreign contractors.

He also stressed the importance of renewing and strengthening the mechanisms of enhancing the economic presence of the Kingdom of the continent. This could be better managed, via the establishment of an institutional framework for economic and financial relations with African countries. The framework could assist in developing land, sea and air transport networks between  Morocco and other ECOWAS member states.

Morocco is positioned to become ECOWAS hub in the financial services, transport, and university and vocational training sectors. The sub regional group stands to benefit from  Morocco’s  geographical position as a gateway between Africa and Europe, as well as enhance the group’s standing in context of existing institutional frameworks  for dialogue and cooperation between the two continents. 





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