China Strengthens Economic Footprint in Morocco with Setting up of Economic Zone in Fez
Morocco and the China Association for Industrial Cooperation (CAIC) have agreed to set up an economic zone in Fez offering a platform for various industries.
The deal is reflective of China’s increasing interest in Morocco notably after the Kingdom signed with China’s Haite Group an agreement to set up a $10 billion industry and technology hub in Tangier, which will create 100,000 jobs in the long run.
The deal aims at creating an economic zone that will offer a platform to attract Chinese investments in the fields of the car industry, aviation, agriculture, renewable energies and health.
Following the boost given by the visit of King Mohammed VI to Beijing in 2016, an increasing number of Chinese companies are taking advantage of the stability and location of Morocco at the crossroads between Europe and Africa in their quest to conquer European and African markets.
Morocco is also becoming the default investment destination in North Africa. Alongside traditional exports to China such as phosphates, Morocco is seeing a tidal wave of Chinese investment in a host of sectors. Between 2011 and 2015 Chinese FDI in Morocco increased 195%, with a 93% increase between 2014 and 2015 alone.
The growing interest of Chinese firms in Morocco is reflected, inter alia, in the setting up of an office of the Bank of China in Casablanca in March 2016 as part of Morocco’s Casablanca Finance City initiative, as well as the announcement of Yangtse Automobile of a $100 million investment (expected to create 2,000 jobs) in Tangier to produce electric cars and buses for export to Europe.
Moroccan tourism sector and culture are also attracting the Chinese, a trend witnessed even before Rabat’s decision to drop visa requirements for Chinese visitors in July 2016, as the 2016 National Day Travel Prediction Report had predicted a 3500% increase in visa applications to Morocco.