Vice President Hamid Ansari is all set to undertake his five-day visit to Morocco and Tunisia beginning May 30 as part of efforts to build on diplomatic gains from the India-Africa summit held in October last year.
Ansari will be in Morocco from May 30 to June 1 at the invitation of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane and will jointly launch the IndiaMorocco Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Rabat.
In an exclusive interview with Reema Sharma of Zee Media Group, Larbi Reffouh, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco in India spoke on India-Morocco economic relations, bilateral ties et al.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q) In light of Vice President Hamid Ansari's upcoming visit to Morocco, what are the new policy initiatives that we can expect in New Delhi-Rabat ties?
The upcoming visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari is of paramount importance for the Moroccan-Indian relations. Aiming essentially at implementing major decisions, taken during the bilateral meeting held in October 29 last year between King Mohammed VI and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the sidelines of the India-Africa partnership summit, this visit is expected to yield tangible results.
In addition to the top-level talks scheduled during this visit, a number of cooperation agreements in a variety of areas, such as broadcasting, water resources, cultural exchange, space and diplomatic and defence studies are expected to be signed. The program of visit of Mr Ansari also includes the joint inauguration of Morocco-India Chamber of commerce, which reflects a genuine desire to further enhance business and trade relations between both countries.
Q) How can Morocco be a reliable economic partner for India in Africa?
Morocco has growing and diversified partnerships with a number of African states in the area of human development as well as in various social, economic and religious fields. This enabled Morocco to become the top African investor in West Africa and the second biggest in the continent.
Morocco, therefore, can be a key partner of India in carrying out tangible projects, both at the bilateral level and within the framework or triangular cooperation, in productive areas which boost development, create jobs and have a direct impact on the citizens' lives.
Q) What are the traditional and non-traditional sectors of cooperation between the two countries?
Phosphates and derivatives constitute the major area of bilateral cooperation between both countries, since India is one of the main partners of the Kingdom both regionally and globally in terms of investments in this sector. Agriculture, pharmaceutical and automobile industries, research in science and technology, the training of managerial staff, and IT are among the main sectors in which both countries have forged fruitful partnerships.
Q) Morocco is hosting the next UN climate summit (COP 22) in November. Are there complementaries between New Delhi and Rabat in terms of this important event?
Just like India who has shown proactive engagement on climate change issues both internationally and at home, through namely its ambitious solar plan, Morocco has also given high priority to this phenomenon. Both countries can be complementary in taking major steps to encourage more constructive global climate talks. Morocco is looking forward to a very active participation by India in the upcoming global conference and contributing to its success.
Q) Your monarch King Mohammed VI recently visited China. But with India and China competing for markets and investment destinations in Africa, how does Morocco plan to balance relations between the two?
King Mohammed VI deeply values India and holds it in high esteem. In his recent address to the Morocco-GCC Summit, held in Riyadh, he mentioned India as an important country with which Morocco is looking forward to launching a strategic partnership.
The visit of King Mohammed VI to India in October 2015 as well as the upcoming visit of Mr Ansari to Morocco, reflect the firm will and determination of leaders of both countries to inject fresh momentum into bilateral relations of both the countries.