China and France are competing over the high-speed train the project linking Marrakech and Agadir in the southwest of Morocco, putting the diplomatic relations between Rabat and Paris in a bad spot.
Less than a month after King Mohammed VI delivered his speech on the occasion of the 44th anniversary of Green March where he invited the authorities to “to give serious thought to the development of a rail link between Marrakech and Agadir,” tension began rising due to an unequal competition between France and China.
China, through its public company China Railway Construction Corp that specializes in railway infrastructure construction, has managed position itself thanks to its intense lobbying. Not only this, the Chinese firm has proposed a cost that put it closer to closing than France, said the Moroccan French-language news source, Maghreb Confidentiel.
This put Moroccan diplomacy in a messy situation. In addition to the fact that France has been Morocco’s primary trade partner, its Treasury and the French Development Agency (Afd) offered Morocco a € 1.1 billion in loan, which financed more than half of Morocco’s first high-speed line between Casablanca and the northern city of Tangier.
The same source alluded to this undeclared diplomatic tension between Morocco and France as possible explanation for the French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire’s deferral of a visit that was scheduled for November 23. The fact that this visit was on the occasion of the first anniversary of high-speed train inauguration is probably revealing enough.
The king explained during his last speech on November 6 that the railway between Marrakech and Agadir before “expending it to the rest of the southern regions.” As to the aim of the project, the King Highlighted:
“The railway line will contribute to opening up the regions concerned, in addition to stimulating development and economic prosperity, especially with regard to the transport of people and goods and the promotion of exports, tourism and other economic activities.”
Ezzoubeir Jabrane is a writer, teacher and entrepreneur. He holds a Master’s Degree in Linguistic and Literary Studies. He has written a number of journalistic, analytical and academic articles in different fields. He’s worked as a teacher of Academic English at Hassan II University in Casablanca and a teacher of English for Engineering in the National Higher School of Arts and Craft (ENSAM), in addition to a number of other private institutions. Ezzoubeir is a founding member of International Morocco and the founder of Exchange Lab, a language center that offers online English courses for individuals, companies and associations.