a French minister calls for "overcoming tensions"

The French Minister for Foreign Trade, Olivier Becht, called on Tuesday to “overcome the tensions” between France and Morocco, fueled among other things by the restrictions on Schengen visas issued to Moroccans.

“We have gone through a period of tension in recent years. We must write a new page »pleaded Becht, on an official visit to Morocco.

“We must overcome these tensions to build common projects”he declared in front of the French community at the French Embassy in Morocco, citing renewable energies, infrastructures, shipbuilding and railways, aeronautics…

The decision of Paris in September 2021 to halve the granting of visas to Morocco and Algeria, arguing the reluctance of these countries to take back their nationals in an irregular situation in France, was particularly badly received by the Moroccans.

A measure referred to as“unjustified” by the government and “great clumsiness” in intellectual circles.

This hardening triggered waves of indignation on social networks and in the Moroccan media, and threw a chill on relations between Rabat and Paris.

High-level discussions have taken place between the French and Moroccan authorities on this subject since the spring of 2022, it is underlined on the side of French diplomacy. They are still ongoing.

Among the other sources of Moroccan discontent are the position deemed too wait-and-see in Paris on the Sahara issue and France’s new honeymoon with Algeria, a major regional rival.

During his visit to Casablanca and Rabat, until Thursday, Becht was due to meet in particular with the Moroccan Minister of Industry and Trade Ryad Mezzour and his colleague in charge of Investment, Mohcine Jazouli.

He must also meet investors and participate in an African business forum.

The first objective of his visit is to strengthen the bilateral economic partnership, and in particular to relaunch industrial investments with Morocco, “hub to Africa”.

France is the leading foreign investor in Morocco.

In 2021, France’s trade with Morocco amounted to 10.7 billion euros.

“We can no doubt further integrate Morocco into French value chains and take better advantage of our geographical, linguistic and cultural proximity”Becht wished in an interview with the Moroccan daily L’Economiste published on Tuesday.

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