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Despite their political differences, Morocco and South Africa try to boost economic ties

While the Western Sahara issues remains one of the main reasons behind Morocco and South Africa’s political differences, the two countries have been trying to strengthen their economic ties.

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South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs Makhotso Magdeline Sotyu attended, Tuesday, a reception hosted by the Moroccan embassy in Pretoria. / Ph. DR

The new cabinet of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is taking baby steps to boost ties with Morocco, focusing on the economic scene.

On the Throne Day, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs Makhotso Magdeline Sotyu attended a reception hosted by the Moroccan embassy in Pretoria.

Speaking during the event, the Minister praised «the big investment opportunities that the two countries have maintained and which will have a highly positive impact on both Rabat and Pretoria as well as Africa», Moroccan news agency reported. The official recalled that Morocco and South Africa are Africa’s biggest investors, the same source added.

Business vs. politics

Without neglecting some of their political differences, especially those related to the Western Sahara conflict, Rabat and Pretoria have been trying for the past couple of years to strengthen their economic ties.

Indeed, in November 2018, the president of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM) Salaheddine Mezouar headed a Moroccan delegation that attended the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, where several African investors had the chance to meet.

On July 15th in Casablanca, CGEM and the Ministry of African Cooperation organized the «Morocco-South Africa Business Dialogue». Former Deputy Finance Minister of the Government of South Africa Mcebisi Jonas, who is also Cyril Ramaphosa’s Special Envoy for Investment, attended the event.

The meeting in Casablanca was also attended by Jonathan Oppenheimer, a South African billionaire businessman and a close friend of Ramaphosa.

By relying on business, Rabat and Pretoria might allow be able to boost their economic ties as in the past. For the record, business relations between Morocco and South Africa started in the 1990s.

In May 1998 in Cape Town, the first session of the Morocco-South Africa joint Commission was co-chaired by Morocco’s Aicha Belarbi and Aziz Pehad, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in South Africa. Relations between the two African countries were, unfortunately, affected by the decision of Pretoria, which recognized «SADR» in 2004.

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