British member of parliament James Duddridge affirmed that Morocco is a “unique” trading partner for the UK, adding that thanks to its “strategic” position, the Kingdom has established itself as a gateway to Africa, offering both proximity and privileged access to the African market.
In an op-ed published on July 26 on the “PoliticsHome” portal, Duddridge stressed that in terms of the post-Brexit trade opportunities, the UK “is right to prioritize building on the UK’s unique 800-year-old relationship with Morocco.”
The Conservative parliamentarian recalled that “from the first vessels trading sugar, dates, or cloth, to the famous Manchester teapots which traveled across Morocco in the 19th century, trade has been a key component of this warm relationship,” adding that the two Kingdoms have maintained official trade relations since the first commercial treaty was signed in Fez in 1721.
Duddridge was delighted to note that three centuries later, following Brexit in 2021, the two Kingdoms signed a Morocco-UK Association Agreement that doubled bilateral trade in just 12 months.
The British MP also emphasized that since this signing, total trade in goods and services has increased by 50%, with a bilateral trade worth over £3.1 billion in 2022.
“The agreement brings tangible benefits to British consumers, allowing Morocco to offer a wide range of high-quality and affordable products that meet the needs of the UK market,” wrote Duddridge, noting that in fresh food alone, Morocco produces green, climate-friendly agriculture, utilizes sustainable farming and produces fresh products, while also boasting a wonderful trade infrastructure.
As former Minister of Trade and Minister of Africa, Duddridge states that he is “uniquely passionate about the future the UK and Africa must share,” adding that Morocco is well-positioned to support and help catalyze trade, business, and commercial links between the UK and Africa, offering both proximity and privileged access to the African market.
Noting that the continent will become a leading economic power by the end of the century, the Conservative MP said that it is time to strengthen ties with Africa and seize the opportunities offered to benefit everyone.
The MP for Rochford & Southend East underlined the importance of improving and updating the Association Agreement as it opens the way to new prospects for cooperation and promotes a broader, more diversified, and multidimensional strategic partnership, both bilaterally and regionally.
“Morocco’s strategic position is key to potential triangular trade partnerships and the door/gateway to African markets, with TangerMed, the largest trans-shipment hub in Africa and the Mediterranean, being linked to 40 ports in Africa,” underlined the British official.
Duddridge also argued that the agreement must be updated and extended to encompass service industries, including education and healthcare, calling for the opening of negotiations for a comprehensive free trade agreement, promoting increased trade in goods and services, increased foreign direct investment, and broad liberalization of tariffs on a mutually beneficial basis.
“Enhancing this trading partnership will see two historic kingdoms partnering together for huge mutual gain,” concluded Duddridge.