By Biswajit Choudhury
New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) Morocco could serve as a gateway for India's exports to Europe, West Africa and the US due to a plethora of trade treaties with several countries and entities, a high-ranking official of the North African nation's industry chamber has said.
"Morocco is included in the European Union's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which aims at bringing the EU and its neighbours closer," Nabila Freidji, Vice President of Morocco's industry chamber, the Confederation Generale des Enterprises du Maroc (CGEM) told IANS during a visit here.
Freidji, a leading example of the first generation of women entrepreneurs in her country,pointed out that Morocco has free trade agreements (FTA) with 55 countries to give it a market of 1 billion people.
It is the only African country to have an FTA with the US, and has been given the status of a major non-NATO ally by the US government.
The CGEM Vice President emphasised Morocco's possibility of being a springboard for Indian exports and investment into Europe, West Africa as well as to the US.
CGEM, in 2015, signed an MoU with Indian industry chamber FICCI for strengthening commercial relations by expanding and deepening economic, trade and investment cooperation.
Morocco is now the largest foreign investor in India's fertiliser sector, Freidji pointed out.
India sources a large chunk of its rock phosphates and phosphoric acid requirements for its fertiliser industry from Morocco, the world's biggest phosphate exporter.
Although bilateral trade volumes hover around the $1.5 billion mark, the two countries decided to elevate bilateral ties to a strategic partnership in 2015, when King Mohammed VI attended the third India-Africa Forum Summit here.
A founding member of the OIC, Morocco, whose constitutional monarch also has the title of 'Amir al-Mu'minin' or "Leader of the Faithful", has very old links with India dating to the Delhi Sultanate when Moroccan scholar and judge Ibn Batuta came here to join the service of the Sultan and lived in India between 1334-41, before going on to China. Ibn Batuta's account is a primary source of information of life in the Delhi Sultanate.
Moroccan culture is a blend of Berber, Arab, West African and European influences, Freidji said.
"We are both Arab, as well as African and situated on the Mediterranean on the other side of Europe," she said.
Morocco is a member of the Arab League, the Union for the Mediterranean and the African Union. It has the fifth largest economy of Africa.
The CGEM official pointed out that in its drive to integrate Morocco further in the global value chain, the country has also joined the G20 "Partnership with Africa" initiave that aims to promote private investment, particularly in infrastructure, for Africa's sustainable economic development.
The G20 group's initiative is also meant to support African countries in the establishment of a favorable business environment and in the development of the financial sector, in partnership with the IMF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
"French carmaker Renault has created 400,000 jobs in Morocco, while 300,000 jobs have been created by Peugeot. We aim to become the largest car producer in the world by the start of the next decade," Freidji said.
(Biswajit Choudhury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)