Magharebia (Washington DC)

17 July 2014

Africa: South-South Trade Requires Security Collaboration

Casablanca — The expansion of trade between African countries will require co-operation on security matters both within the region and between continents.

That was the view shared by Amadeus Institute strategy and communications manager Talal Salaheddine after his organisation unveiled the findings of a study of partnerships between Morocco and other African states on Wednesday (July 16th).

This collaboration would "reassure investors and establish a calm business climate, which would allow the different African economies to work together", he said.

Brahim Fassi Fihri, who chairs the think tank that specialises in geopolitical and geostrategic analyses, stressed that this study was conducted against a backdrop of remarkable efforts to strengthen South-South partnerships.

"Morocco, which wants to set itself up as a hub for Central Africa and West Africa, has introduced a certain number of measures aimed at attracting international investors seeking a suitable way in to penetrate the African market," he said.

The kingdom aims to introduce greater flexibility into the laws on economic relations, improve the business climate, upgrade transport infrastructure, and increase flights to African cities along with greater co-operation on security, Fassi Fihri said.

The Amadeus analysts devoted a large part of their study to the security challenges and the importance of political stability for the development of trade between African countries.

Business analyst Majid Ghanem told Magharebia that economic development between African states required "a global approach ranging from simple commercial exchanges to security".

For Ghanem, it must all link together to produce sustainable co-development to benefit African populations.

For his part, international relations specialist Aziz Lamfadel said that in spite of recent Moroccan initiatives, the level of economic exchanges between Morocco and the rest of Africa was hardly earth-shattering.

In addition to the overwhelming proportion of anarchic, clandestine and poorly managed trade between African countries, "security, terrorism and political conflict put further complications in the way of establishing a win-win Afro-African partnership," he said.

Saida Attalbi, a campaigner from the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), noted that institutional and political instability in Africa represents a real drag on economic exchanges between the countries on the continent.

"With al-Shabaab in the East, AQIM perfectly redeployed across the Sahel, the establishment of jihadist groups in the Sinai, the return of Ansar al-Sharia to Tunisia, the heavy threat of Boko Haram in Nigeria... , these are all bitter realities polluting the business world, hampering economic development, and compromising peace and stability across the whole continent," she explains.

According to Amadeus, Africa continues to account for a small proportion of Moroccan trade.

With 2.96 billion euros of trade by volume in 2012, Morocco placed 46th out of Africa's trading partners, coming behind Algeria (41st) and Tunisia (38th).

The study came up with 15 recommendations for "responsible and sustainable co-development" to boost the kingdom's economic partnerships with the rest of Africa.

Those include: "speeding up the signing of free trade agreements with other African countries, supporting the financing of Morocco businesses operating internationally, creating an investment fund and strengthening transport and connection infrastructures."

The study also called for financial support for Moroccan companies operating internationally, most notably through the creation of a financial arm for Morocco's African strategy.

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