Envoy points to gateway between civilizations

Updated: 2014-04-21 06:56

By Liu Lu (China Daily)

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Morocco has served as an important link to the West down the ages, yet most Chinese know very little about the country, and many even consider it backward, says China's Ambassador to Morocco, Sun Shuzhong.

But many of the earlier achievements of ancient China, such as making paper and gunpowder, were introduced to Europe via Morocco. Chinese tea and porcelain reached Europe through the country and also left an indelible mark on the country's culture, he says.

Envoy points to gateway between civilizations
Envoy points to gateway between civilizations
"Chinese business people do not understand the Moroccan market or its investment environment. In most cases, they are unaware of what Morocco can offer compared with other African countries."

Morocco was also at the forefront in establishing diplomatic relations with China in 1958, being the second African country to do so.

However, despite the long-standing diplomatic, cultural and economic ties between China and Morocco, distance and linguistic factors - Morocco's main languages are Arabic, Berber and French - have stood in the way of people-to-people dealings, Sun says. "This is something that we need to deal in our bilateral ties."

Better mutual awareness will automatically take bilateral ties "to the next level", he says, and will reinforce efforts to improve Sino-Moroccan trade and business collaboration.

Trade between China and Morocco was worth $3.8 billion last year, 6 percent higher than the year before, the embassy says.

Embassy officials say they are confident trade will continue to flourish. At present, China is Morocco's third-largest trading partner. Morocco is China's ninth-largest trading partner and the largest export market for Chinese tea in Africa. Cumulative investment in Morocco by China stands at about $170 million.

Envoy points to gateway between civilizations

Sun Shuzhong, China's ambassador to Morocco, says the potential of China's investment in Morocco is huge.

"Although China's investment in Morocco is small compared with many other African countries, the potential is huge," Sun says. "China, having served as the world's factory for the past 30 years, has built up an impressive manufacturing capability. Morocco hopes to attract more investment from China to further improve and complement the local industrial chain."

Because more Chinese businesses learn about the investment opportunities in Morocco and of incentives that local governments offer, investment will increase, he says.

Morocco has a stable political and social environment, sound legal system and a relatively high level of education. All of these are attractive factors for channeling foreign investment into Morocco, Sun says.

However, the main attraction for Chinese investors is the guarantee that comes with the friendly bilateral political relations between the two countries, he says.

"The two have a solid foundation for collaboration and complement one another strongly economically."

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