The president of the Moroccan Institute for International Relations, Mr Jawad Kerdoudi has underlined the need to achieve triangular cooperation between India, Morocco, and African countries to expand trade and investment linkages.
Giving a short presentation on India-Morocco trade and investment relations during an interaction between Indian experts and the business delegation members of Morocco at Observer Research Foundation on April 28, Mr Kerdoudi said that Morocco not being a member of the African Union will not prove to be an obstacle for triangular cooperation.
Responding to a question by Dr Sandipani Dash, Assistant Professor of the Centre for African Studies, University of Delhi, Mr Kerdoudi pointed out that Morocco is the only African country which has a free trade agreement with the United States and 22 African countries.
Mr Kerdoudi said the bilateral trade relations between India and Morocco are very strong, with Morocco’s exports to India valued at US $720 million and Moroccan imports from India valued at US $420 million. Morocco’s largest exports to India are rock phosphates and phosphoric acid and it largely imports machinery and pharmaceuticals from India.
Mr Kerdoudi highlighted the possibilities to cooperate in the field of agri-business, information technology, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and tourism.
In the last one decade, the economic relations between India and Morocco have expanded steadily. The king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, participated in the third India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015 and on the sidelines of the Summit, the Moroccan Centre for Export Promotion (Maroc Export) signed MOUs with several Indian organisations such as ASSOCHAM, PHDCCI, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) and Indian Importers Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Mr Ramiah Rajagopalan, former Ambassador of India to Morocco and Managing Editor, Foreign Affairs, also underscored the importance of the tripartite model. According to him, triangular cooperation has the potential to create a win-win situation for all the three countries. He mentioned that energy and fertilisers are the two key areas of cooperation between India and Morocco.
Mr Swagat Bam, Advisor, ORF, underlined the need for investment cooperation and public-private partnership in exploration, extraction and production of minerals, especially phosphates. According to him, the demand rich India will be much more important to Morocco than China because China is itself a large producer of phosphates.
Ms Jayshree Sengupta, Senior Fellow, ORF, emphasised on the need for greater cooperation between India and Morocco in the areas of agriculture, food processing, handicrafts, and tourism. She added that despite being the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, 40 percent of India’s produce gets wasted every year. According to her, cooperation in the food processing sector will reduce wastage, increase India’s processed food exports, and create job opportunities for the rural poor. Both Ms Jayshree Sengupta and Mr Benamor Rachid from Morocco acknowledged that connectivity through direct flight between India and Morocco will contribute towards closer ties with Morocco.
India can also share production technologies and invest in poultry and fishing sectors in Morocco, said Mr Suresh Kumar, Assistant Professor, Centre for African Studies, University of Delhi.
Dr. Vikrom Mathur, Senior Fellow, ORF, highlighted the importance of partnership between India and Morocco in health, gender, and climate change, particularly in the context of CoP22 which will be hosted by Morocco this year. Ms Malancha Chakrabarty, Associate Fellow, ORF, underscored the growing potential of medical tourism in India and Renu Malhotra, Editor in Chief, AfroAsian Business Chronicle, pointed that there is a huge scope to collaborate in Ayurveda and Yoga.
Making an important observation that poverty is the consequence of bad health rather than vice versa, Dr Aghzadi Raja, a renowned Moroccan surgeon, recognised India’s role in Morocco’s pharmaceuticals sector. She mentioned the role of Indian companies such as Ranbaxy in providing cheaper generic drugs to Morocco. She also noted the importance of women’s participation in political decision making and mentioned that Morocco has many women representatives in the Parliament.
The participants also stressed on the need for India-Morocco cooperation to combat terrorism. Ms Ruchita Beri, Senior Research Associate, Institute of Defence and Strategic Affairs, pointed out that India has proposed United Nations Convention to combat terrorism.
Dr Oualalou Abdelhafi, Vice President, IMRI, said that Morocco is in coalition with the United States and Saudi Arabia to eradicate the ISIS and other terrorist organisations. Prof Suresh Kumar suggested there is a need for joint venture between India and Morocco to counter terrorism.
Moderating the interaction, Mr HHS Viswanathan, Distinguished Fellow, ORF and a former Ambassador to African countries, said the third India-Africa Forum Summit held in October last year in New Delhi has added momentum to India’s relations with Africa..
This report was prepared by Richa Sekhani, Research Assistant, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi