The meeting, held on the morning of 22 May at the Madrid headquarters of the CEOE, was attended at the highest level, including the Moroccan Minister of Investment, the Spanish Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, as well as the Moroccan and Spanish ambassadors, and the heads of the main business organisations of both countries.
The meeting was opened by Antonio Garamendi, President of CEOE, who, as host, was in charge of welcoming the attendees, stressing that this is the first Spain-Morocco business meeting to take place after the High Level Meeting between the two countries in February 2023.
According to Garamendi, "Morocco and Spain are complementary economies, which have enormous competitive advantages. Morocco is the gateway for investors to Africa, while Spain is the gateway to Europe".
On relations between the business organisations of the two countries, the CEOE president pointed out that they work together with CGEM and CEMAES to support the privileged partnership between the two countries, and announced that the internationalisation programmes that were forced to be interrupted because of the pandemic are to be resumed, with the launch of the sixth edition.
He was followed by his Moroccan counterpart, Chakib Alj, President of CGEM. The president of the Moroccan businessmen was conclusive in affirming that, together, Moroccan and Spanish businessmen are stronger: "Morocco and Spain share very important links; Spain has been Morocco's main partner for the last ten years and we have more than 1,700 companies with commercial relations between the two countries".
As the president of the Moroccan employers' association later commented to Atalayar, "the political situation between the two countries is very good, and this will also allow Spanish businessmen to approach the Sahara, a region that has great potential in terms of renewable energies, which will have an important port in Dakhla, from where exports will be channelled, and which has other economic sectors such as fishing, agriculture or the desalination of seawater. The opportunities are there, Morocco has made a lot of progress in the last 20 years and this will benefit the region.
In his speech, Alj highlighted the sectors in which Spanish and Moroccan companies can complement each other: "we can exchange experiences and technologies in areas such as recycling; water management, in which Spain has a great deal of experience, as well as everything related to infrastructures".
The CGEM president placed special emphasis on the textile sector, in which Morocco is an important player, due to its human capital, favourable business environment and proximity to Europe; and in the automotive and space sectors, in which innovation is being promoted.
Chakib Alj also highlighted Morocco's interest as an entry point for investors into Africa, a continent that offers many possibilities and whose middle class has been growing for years.
The new investment charter promoted by the Moroccan government will play an important role in attracting investors, with an ambitious target of 55 billion. "We want Spanish business leaders to think of Morocco as a business platform with a huge potential for investment growth in very diverse sectors," he said.
Representing the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, its president, José Luis Bonet, said that this meeting will allow Spanish business leaders to approach Morocco as an important international investment platform: "Morocco is a strategic partner of Spain in all areas, especially economic and business. And Spain is Morocco's first client and supplier, which is a stable and competitive economy in the primary, industrial and service sectors," Bonet concluded.
Mohcine Jazouli, Morocco's Minister of Investment, stressed that the visit made by the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, in 2022, marked a turning point in the friendship and cooperation between the two countries, which has culminated in the holding of the High Level Meeting between the two countries last February, "a meeting in which 18 agreements and protocols were signed, which constitute the basis for the improvement of cooperation between Spain and Morocco".
Jazouli pointed out that "Morocco is a land of opportunities and a reliable partner in times of international uncertainty. Under the impetus of King Mohammed VI, the country has become an economic centre in the region, bringing together major infrastructures and talent. Traditional sectors, such as agri-food and textiles, have been improved, and there is significant growth in sectors such as the automotive and space industries, as well as green energy, of which Morocco is the leading African producer".
According to the minister, the country is now immersed in a new phase of development, the aim of which is to attract private investment, which can generate a great deal of job creation. "In this momentum, the new investment charter will play an unprecedented role in terms of improving the business climate and providing substantial support for investment," he said.
For the Moroccan minister, the figures for Spanish investment in Morocco can be improved, taking advantage of the complementarity between the two countries, especially in sectors such as the automobile, textile and agri-food industries, "in addition to green and sustainable energy, the production of which we have enormous capacity in Morocco".
In the section of the meeting devoted to diplomatic relations between the two countries, Karima Benyaich, Morocco's ambassador to Spain, explained that "in a turbulent world, Morocco and Spain are knowing how to deal with complicated situations thanks to wise policies that favour well-being".
The ambassador recalled that this new stage of excellent relations between Morocco and Spain was marked by the visit of the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, 'which opened a process of permanent dialogue, of mutual respect, covering many different sectors, and which crystallised a few months ago with the High Level Meeting, a historic link in our bilateral relations'.
Among the critical issues that this dialogue between the two countries will make it possible to tackle with guarantees are questions such as the fight against illegal immigration, against human trafficking networks and against terrorism.
The Moroccan ambassador also highlighted the value of an enormous logistical operation such as Operation Crossing the Straits, which every year mobilises 3.5 million Moroccans who return to their country for the summer holidays, "a logistical challenge, fluid, safe and unique worldwide".
She also stressed that the important links that unite the two continents, cultures and civilisations are based on a shared vision on the part of the respective kings, and on the friendly relationship that unites the two Royal Courts.
For his part, the Spanish Ambassador to Morocco, Ricardo Díez-Hochleitner, explained that "right now we have a new and strong economic interrelationship that we would have dreamed of two decades ago. Spain is an essential market for Morocco and, furthermore, it is a balanced trade relationship, since it does not generate a deficit".
The ambassador pointed out that there are more than 19,000 Spanish companies that export their products to Morocco, in a wide range of sectors: automotive, road transport, rail, agriculture, construction, tourism, water, health, with very significant results in terms of job creation per euro invested.
Díez-Hotchleitner valued very positively the agreements reached during the last High Level Meeting, which resulted in the signing of 18 treaties and a financial protocol, with 32 points dedicated to bilateral economic and commercial development.
He also pointed out not only the fact that Spain is Morocco's gateway to the EU, but also to a very important market such as Latin America. "In this and other respects, we can and must do more," he concluded.