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Belt and Road Deal: Morocco to Become China's Trade Hub in Africa

Chinese bilateral cooperation in Africa commonly revolves around resource trade, yet Morocco is an exception.

10 Jan 2022

Rabat - The Chinese government has high hopes regarding cooperation with Morocco following the North African country becoming the first to sign into the Belt and Road initiative. An analysis in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) cited several Chinese observers who see Morocco as “an exception” when it comes to China-Africa cooperation.

China and Morocco signed a landmark agreement on Wednesday, January 5, making Morocco the first African country to officially sign up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Experts commenting on the event highlighted that China foresees an altogether different form of cooperation with Morocco compared to its previous dealings with other African countries.

The SCMP cited Zhang Yuyou, associate professor at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies at China’s Northwest University, as stating that he expects Morocco-China cooperation to revolve primarily around “Morocco’s geographical advantages.”

Given Morocco’s position at the southernmost point of Europe, with nautical links across the Atlantic, China sees the country as a prime location to serve as a trade hub linking Africa and Europe to China. “Morocco is China’s important potential bridgehead in the Mediterranean,” Zhang told the SCMP.

Morocco is an exceptional case, according to Chinese experts, as China commonly signs bilateral trade deals with resource-rich African nations that revolve primarily around resource trade. In Morocco, China’s focus revolves around trade, as well as Morocco’s healthcare, financial service, and agriculture sectors.

As the first African country to sign on to China’s $4-8 trillion Belt and Road Initiative, Morocco has the opportunity to diversify its trade that still focuses primarily on historic Mediterranean trade partners such as Spain, France and Italy, as well as the US and Germany.

The deal further aims to boost Moroccan exports to China, which is currently the 14th largest buyer of Moroccan goods worldwide.

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