Britain, Morocco seek to boost economic ties

Britain’s International Trade Secretary, Morocco’s Agriculture Minister hold talks on ways of developing further cooperation in agriculture, fisheries.

CASABLANCA – Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture and Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development and Water and Forests, Aziz Akhannouch held talks Thursday in Rabat with Britain’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox on ways of boosting economic ties between the two kingdoms.

The two ministers expressed the will to continue efforts to further develop cooperation and economic relations between Morocco and the United Kingdom in agriculture and fisheries.

They also discussed trade ties between Rabat and London and identified the various lines of cooperation that can be strengthened in the both short and medium terms between the two countries in the fields of agriculture and fishing, said Morocco’s agriculture ministry in a statement.

Overall trade between Morocco and the UK has exceeded Dh16 billion ($1.6 billion) per year on average in the agricultural sector between 2016 and 2018.

The UK is the 13th most important customer of Moroccan fishery products in 2018 and represents 1.4% of Moroccan exports.

Fox, who was on a two-day visit to Morocco, tweeted that the North African country symbolised Britain’s future potential on the world stage as economic shifts challenge traditional global flows.

The British minister met Mustapha Bakkoury, President of MASEN, Morocco’s renewable energy agency to discuss opportunities of collaboration between the two countries.

Fox’s visit to Morocco came as Britain’s chances of leaving the European without a deal are greater.

Morocco will have to negotiate new trade agreements with Britain once Brexit takes ef­fect. The new deals might be more beneficial to Morocco’s agricultural exports since the British market will be free from EU quotas on agri­cultural products. 

Britain was due to leave the EU in March but that has been pushed back until October 31 after lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's negotiated settlement.

The Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Carolyn Fairbairn warned that leaving the EU without a deal will cause severe long-term damage to Britain's competitiveness.

Britain's finance minister Philip Hammond warned his fellow party members vying for May's job that a no-deal Brexit would endanger the economy amid deep divisions within the conservative party.

But Fox said that Downing Street should be ‘cleared out’ of Brexit doubters under the next prime minister.

“It will be key to ensuring that we do not see the priority as being keeping as much of the EU as possible rather than decided what best suits Britain’s long-term interests,” Fox wrote in the Daily Telegraph.