Chinese group will build multibillion-dollar city in Morocco
Casablanca - China’s Haite group and Moroccan officials have signed an agreement to build a multibillion-dollar industrial and residential park of 300,000 inhabitants that will create thousands of jobs near Tangier in northern Morocco.
The deal, signed by Haite Group President Li Biao and President of Tangier Tetouan-Al Hoceima region Ilyas el-Omari along with Moroccan Trade and Industry Minister Moulay Hafid Elalamy, is part of the strategic partnership agreement concluded in May following Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s visit to China.
Haite Group operates civil and military aviation, aerospace components, energy, mining, insurance and real estate.
The project, which is estimated at $10 billion, will be built in Ain Dalia, which is close to existing industrial areas and Tanger-Med port, one of the largest ports on the Mediterranean and in Africa.
Elalamy said textile, automotive and aerospace industries were the strategic vectors of the industrial city, which will cover 2,000 hectares over two phases. The first 1,000-hectare phase is under development and the land is available for exploitation, said Omari, who accompanied Chinese government officials to the site.
“Through its new business model, which aims to support domestic demand through salary increases, China is losing its economic appeal and is thus obliged to strengthen its competitiveness with other countries, particularly emerging ones,” said Elalamy.
“This is a truly integrated industrial city that is planned.”
The park will allow Chinese companies to maintain a competitive advantage and export products to Europe and Africa while benefiting from a young and skilled Moroccan workforce. It will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the region and the transfer of expertise and technologies.
Li said: “We hope to establish in Morocco the ‘industrial city’ concept combining residential and industry in a bid to help develop the economy and reduce unemployment in the country.”
The strategic shift to doing business eastward spearheaded by King Mohammed VI is bearing fruit.
“This is the first project whose Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed before his Majesty the King in Beijing that will materialise,” Mohamed Agoumi, director international of Morocco’s BMCE Bank, Haite Group’s partner in the project, told L’Economiste, a French-language newspaper in Casablanca.
Haite Group, Morocco-China International and BMCE Bank of Africa recently signed an MoU on the creation of a Sino-Moroccan investment fund of $1 billion dedicated to financial services, aerospace, industrial parks and infrastructure. More than a dozen other MoUs were signed in China.
Morocco is also eyeing the Chinese tourist trade, although there are no direct flights between the countries. Moroccan carrier Royal Air Maroc announced in December 2014 a Casablanca-Beijing liaison, which has not been launched.
However, Moroccan Tourism Minister Lahcen Haddad said he is upbeat about the Chinese market. He seeks to increase the number of Chinese tourists from 10,515 in 2015 to 16,000 in 2016 and set a target of 100,000 visitors from China in 2020.
The lifting of visas for Chinese nationals wishing to visit Morocco went into effect June 1st. The decision will help Morocco benefit from a market of 120 million Chinese who travelled abroad in 2015 and spent a total of $104.5 billion.