Written by 11:37 am Economy

Minister Riad Mazour defends free trade agreements amid parliamentary criticism

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Minister of Industry and Trade Riad Mazour defended free trade agreements Monday that MPs blamed for weakening national competition.

Morocco’s FTAs with Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey, and the UAE and its trade status with the European Union cover 77% of the Kingdom’s trade exchange, a ground for what MPs say is undermining competitiveness of national products and the absence of government measures to support local enterprises.

“These agreements are a basic system for strengthening industry in the Kingdom, and they are the essential element that brings investors to Morocco,” said the minister while acknowledging the existence of “disparities” in some free trade agreements that are not in the interest of the national economy.

Reducing import tariffs through FTAs enables companies to expand internationally. This move lowers costs for imports from countries with lower living expenses, making it tough for Moroccan firms in the same sectors to compete, leading these companies to downsize their workforce.

Likewise, traditional economies in emerging markets that heavily rely on farming face challenges competing with subsidized agri-businesses from developed nations. Many small farms are lost, pushing people to seek urban employment worsening unemployment, crime, and poverty.

To combat FTA’s negative effects, the minister said Morocco is developing “a new type” of industrial real estate that would attract new structured industrial projects.

In response to the representatives’ questions about industrial zones, during the oral question session in the first chamber, the same government official revealed that Morocco has 152 industrial zones in a total of 12 thousand hectares. Since the beginning of the mandate, 27 additional areas have been worked on, with a total of 1,400 hectares.

Committed before Parliament that a new type of industrial real estate would be provided at the level of each region to attract new structured industrial projects.

The minister called for the adoption of a national strategy to establish industrial units in some rural regions, taking into account the regional products of each region, absorbing unemployment and reducing migration towards cities.

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