Morocco has said its trade with the ECOWAS region hit one billion dollars in 2016 and reinforced its request to join the region.
President of the Moroccan House of Representatives, Mr Habib El Malik, said this when he hosted delegation of ECOWAS parliamentarians led by the Speaker of the parliament at an inaugural session on regional integration in Rabat, Morocco on Thursday.
The session was tagged “Towards a better movement of persons and goods among African countries: What mechanisms?”
Malik emphasised that Morocco was committed to the promotion of regional and continental integration and trade.
“ECOWAS and Morocco have strong relations; volume of trade between both parties was one billion dollars in 2016 which represents more than 37.3 per cent of increase compared to 10 per cent of trade in 1996.”
“Morocco is ECOWAS’ first economic partner and we are working on partnerships to enhance trade and promote south south cooperation.”
Malik further said there was the need for countries to put in place appropriate framework to address challenges posed by migration and integrate migrant populations to reduce security risks.
“We have stabilised the situation of 25,000 migrants and this is part of proactive efforts to stand with other African countries; we also have about 25,000 students studying in different institutions in Morocco.
“These show that we are committed to the promotion of regional integration and Morocco joining the ECOWAS will be of mutual benefit and open up huge prospects in ECOWAS.”
He added that Morocco being part of the ECOWAS region would place the region as the 16th economically prosperous bloc globally and further make it possible to access foreign markets.
In her address, Morocco’s Secretary of State to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mrs Mounia Boucetta said Morocco’s admittance to ECOWAS would also promote opportunities for youth development.
“Free movement hinges on participation of all and we will look toward the well-being of all Africa.”
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament Mr Moustapha Cissé Lo recalled measures put in place by the regional bloc to promote free movement of goods and persons.
Cissé Lo also reiterated the parliament’s support to admit Morocco as part of ECOWAS.
“Morocco’s application to join ECOWAS is to be encouraged; Morocco is a platform for communicating exchanges for overcoming challenges in the region.”
The session ended with a declaration by participants to strengthen competitiveness of all member states, encourage economic integration promote peace and enhance cooperation.
The participants also reaffirmed their commitment to implement the agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area recently signed in Kigali by more than 40 African countries.