RI can make Morocco a gateway to Europe
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Morocco and Indonesia have enjoyed cordial relations for more than five decades. There is no need for a visa if an Indonesian citizen wants to visit the North African nation. Yet a lack of awareness about the economic potential of both countries remained a hurdle in boosting bilateral ties, Morocco’s man in Jakarta has said.
“Our bilateral trade is growing, but it is still small. This is mainly because of a lack of awareness among businesspeople,” Moroccan Ambassador to Indonesia Mohamed Majdi said at a meeting of African ambassadors and members of the Africa-Indonesia Press Association in Jakarta on Tuesday.
According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), two-way trade between Morocco and Indonesia was US$150.13 million in the first seven months of 2012, up 80.19 percent from $83.32 million in the same period last year.
Phosphates accounted for around $70 million of the $152.44 million in products that Morocco exported to Indonesia in 2011.
Indonesia’s major exports to Morocco comprise coffee, tea, electronic goods, rubber and textiles.
Morocco, which has the fifth-largest economy in Africa, is home to 75 percent of the world’s reserves of phosphates, which Indonesia needs to manufacture fertilizer.
With an annual per capita income of $5,100, Morocco is considered a medium-sized market of 32 million people. However, Majdi said that Morocco could become a base for Indonesia to enter larger markets of the European Union (EU) and North Africa.
“We have signed free trade agreements with the US, the EU and Turkey. Indonesian companies can establish production bases [in Morocco] and export their goods to the US and the EU freely,” Majdi said.
“Morocco is a gateway to Europe,” he added.
On Africa-Indonesia relations, Foreign Ministry information and public diplomacy chief Abdurrahman M. Fachir said that there were no hurdles.
“We don’t have political problems with African countries, but it will be a big task as to how to translate these good relations into concrete cooperation,” Abdurrahman said.
Morocco, a tolerant Sunni Muslim-majority state, recently won kudos in a study on religious freedoms in various countries conducted by the US State Department. Religious minorities, such as Jewish and Christian people, have the freedom of worship in the nation.
“There are no prohibitions on religious clothing or symbols, in either the public or the private spheres,” the report said.
The US and the EU see Morocco as a key ally in the Arab and African world and a strategic bulwark against the threat of al-Qaeda, which already made major inroads into Africa in nations such as Libya, Mali and Somalia.