The upcoming visit by King Mohammed VI to India to attend the third India-Africa Forum Summit will certainly impart fresh momentum to ties between India and Morocco. The high-profile visit of the Moroccan monarch to India is interpreted by Moroccan media as an acknowledgement that a new thrust on promoting investments is required augurs well for the evolution of a substantial, multifaceted relationship.
India and Morocco enjoy warm and friendly relations, reflecting the centuries old economic and socio-cultural ties. Relations between India and Morocco go back to the 14th century when the famous traveler and writer from Tangier, Ibn Batuta travelled to India. In modern history, India was active in the UN supporting the Moroccan freedom movement and recognized Morocco on June 20, 1956 when it became independent of the protectorate arrangements with France. Diplomatic Missions were established in 1957.
India-Morocco partnership has improved tremendously during recent years. The economic complementarities are helping this relationship to grow stronger. India is one of the major markets for Moroccan phosphate and its derivatives. Other main items of export to India are metallic ores and metal scrap, semi-finished products and inorganic chemicals. The main items of India’s exports to Morocco are cotton yarn, synthetic fiber, transport equipment, pharmaceuticals, agricultural implements, chemicals, spices and manufactured metals.
The quantum of bilateral trade, which was US$ 1.63 billion in 2010, reached US$ 2.04 billion in 2011 (including India’s exports to Morocco at US$ 587.2 million and India’s imports from Morocco at US$1.45 billion). The trade turnover between the two countries stood at US$1.73 billion in 2012 (including India’s exports to Morocco at US$ 517.7 million and imports at US$1,212 million). As per provisional figures, in 2013, trade between the two countries stood at US$1.41 billion i.e. India’s exports to Morocco in 2013 stood at US$ 615 million while imports were valued at US$796 million. The slight decline in trade in last two years (2012 and 2013) could be attributed to factors which are affecting Moroccan economy’s growth i.e. the global economic meltdown, the current weak state of the European economy, regional turmoil, comparatively lesser demand from India of phosphoric acid and rock phosphate due to higher pricing by Morocco, and also due to the huge trade growth in the base year. Trade volumes are expected to pick up in the coming years.
The balance of trade has been in favour of Morocco because of imports of phosphoric acid and rock phosphate by India.
An India-Morocco joint venture in fertilizer sector in Morocco, called IMACID, was set up in November 1999. At present, the JV is producing around 430,000 MT per annum of phosphoric acid, nearly all of which is imported by India. The Moroccan phosphate company, OCP, has invested in Paradip Phosphates Ltd. in India.
Moreover, several Indian companies have established collaborations with Moroccan companies and are working in the Kingdom in diverse sectors. TATA Motors has a plant in Casablanca for manufacturing bus bodies. Ranbaxy has set up its own manufacturing plant for production of medicines in Casablanca. PepsiCo India has acquired the beverage maker’s entire franchise bottling operations in Morocco. Indian industry and business associations CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM have institutional arrangements with Moroccan industry and business associations. A number of trade delegations from various industry and export promotion councils of India, such as ASSOCHAM, CAPEXIL, TEXPROCIL and EEPC have been visiting Morocco periodically. During these visits, a number of trade promotion activities such as expositions, buyer-seller meets, etc., are organized.
There is lot of interest in Morocco in Indian art and culture, especially Hindi cinema. The Marrakesh International Film Festivals regularly screen Hindi movies and invite Indian actors. Indian musicians participate in the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music on a regular basis.
The present level of cooperation between India and Morocco is beyond the actual potential. There is a huge scope for improvement in core sectors including economic and trade ties, defence and security ties, etc. Both the nations need to work hard if they are to strengthen the present level of ties, which is not comprehensive in nature as of now, in order to impart strategic character. This partnership will enable both the countries to harness the vast potential of bilateral relations, drawing upon complementarities and each other’s intrinsic strengths, and work together to address regional and global challenges. In the long run, India will continue to remain an important partner for Morocco and vice versa.
Undoubtedly, this upcoming royal visit to New Delhi will reinforce the strategic dialogue and will benefit the economy of both countries. Many observers are looking forward to the outcome of this royal visit and the expected remarks that King Mohammed VI will deliver during the India Africa Forum Summit. So concretely speaking what are the actions and initiatives that both countries will take in an effort to elaborate a new economic roadmap that will reinforce a win win partnership between India and Africa.