A strong future together for Morocco and Ireland

The north African state’s Ambassador to Ireland, Lahcen Mahraoui, has said it is imperative to build stronger bridges and ties between the two countries in the interests of increasing mutual trade

Lahcen Mahraoui, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to Ireland: committed to bilateral cooperation. Picture: Bryan Meade

With strong values and a global vision, Ireland and Morocco have many similarities and have long enjoyed good relations. This, according to Lahcen Mahraoui, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to Ireland, is due to a combination of diplomacy and commitment.

“Morocco and Ireland have been working on developing bilateral relations in a remarkable way during the past few years, and are very committed to further strengthening their partnerships to cover multiple sectors,” he said.

“Sharing the same universal values, the two countries are also very committed to the multilateralism system and to international cooperation.

“And after spending more than five years here in Ireland, I must say that there have been several achievements marking the friendly relationship between both countries, ranging from political, cultural, educational, and parliamentary diplomacy.

“Thanks should also be given to the outstanding collaboration with our Irish friends in different departments and, in particular, those at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs. Our friendship was confirmed by the opening, last year, of the embassy of Ireland in Rabat and the nomination of the first ever resident Ambassador of Ireland to Morocco, His Excellency, James McIntyre.

“During the past five years here, I have seen the progress which has been made by both sides to deepen and strengthen the ties between the two countries – and this makes me confident that our bilateral and multilateral relations will continue to blossom.”

Ambassador Mahraoui says that both parliamentary and people-to-people diplomacy have been core elements in strengthening relations between the two nations.

He believes that exchange visits of the two parliamentary speakers, the signing of a MOU between both parliaments, the creation of parliamentary friendship groups and the signing of several academic agreements, to name a few, have all helped to grow bilateral relations. And the strategic partnership will be of great benefit, offering many opportunities to both countries.

“Over the past 22 years under the visionary leadership of His Majesty, King Mohammed VI, Morocco has built a competitive low carbon production,” Ambassador Mahraoui said. “Thanks to several free trade agreements signed with more than 50 countries, Morocco has established a geostrategic platform which offers access to more than billion consumers in the US, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

“Exports have doubled within a decade, and Morocco today is considered to be a primary, geo-strategically placed location to invest in and export to the world, especially given its proximity to many key markets, including Europe, which is located only 14km north.

“On the basis of these facts, and the many pre-existing trade links between our two countries, developing a tangible economic, industrial, and commercial cooperation will definitely benefit both parties. Trade is a great example of how our countries can take advantages from their goods and services when they are doing business.”

Indeed, Ambassador Mahraoui said there were many initiatives to drive bi-lateral trade as well as a keen willingness on both sides.

“There is a genuine interest from both Ireland and Morocco to increase trade,” he said. “All we need is a commitment to set up a solid and tangible network which will help the major economic bodies, along with Irish and Moroccan companies, to explore cooperation opportunities in many sectors of interest, such as the renewable energies, automotive, agri-industry, aeronautics, outsourcing, textile, pharmaceutical, education and finance sectors.

“The key to this is getting to know each country's trading and investment climate better, communicating with each other about the immense possibilities and exchanging experiences to enable further collaboration.

“Then when the important contacts between the business communities are made, they will provide information, build trust, and allow more opportunities for doing business and securing investment.”

Ambassador Mahraoui says that one of the initiatives which facilitated first contacts and introductions between many entities and experts across various sectors from both countries was the Virtual Morocco Week Brief.

Organised in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce, it ran from March 29 to April 10 in 2021 and was jointly launched by Minister El Alamy from Morocco and Minister Robert Troy from Ireland.

“This event gave Irish firms some good insights into how to penetrate the Moroccan market and also helped them with introductory overviews: to understand ‘Doing Business in Morocco’ and to discover how to increase trade between Ireland and Morocco,” said Ambassador Mahraoui. “It also allowed them to have a look at all the potentials Morocco has to offer as a regional hub and as a safe and stable gateway to the African market.

“During the event, both sides showed a keen interest and a determination to strengthen the trade and investment ties between our countries to create shared prosperity. And it is in that spirit that we should work on building more bridges, to ease the mobility of business people from the two countries by creating a new direct flight between Dublin and Casablanca, and to ease the transport of goods and products by launching a new shipping line between the Port of Cork and the Port Tangiers-Med.

“The conclusion of a framework agreement for economic, industrial and trade cooperation between our two governments will help to create a legal basis for cooperation between Morocco and Ireland, and to identify priority sectors and leverage the specific opportunities available to the business communities in our two countries.”