Casablanca & Hong Kong trade center representatives signed on Wednesday a partnership agreement that aims to reinforce economic cooperation and bilateral trade between the two cities.

The agreement between the Casablanca Finance City Authority (CFCA) and Hong Kong’s Financial Services Development Council (FSDC) establishes a “framework for an exchange of best practices in financial industry development between Casablanca and Hong Kong,” according to a joint statement from the two Centers.

The newly-pledged partnership boasts a multi-pronged approach to strengthen the cities’ economic relationship.

The deal boasts blueprints for bilateral trainings, exchange programs, and official visits between high-level business delegations in both Casablanca and Hong Kong. The two cities have also pledged to introduce joint initiatives promoting their respective markets.

“We are very pleased to sign this agreement with the FSDC to consolidate our cooperation with Hong Kong, which is among the leading financial centers on an international scale,” said Said Ibrahimi, the Director General of the CFCA.

FSDC President Laurence Li echoed Casablanca’s sentiments. “The Financial Services Development Council is delighted to establish this cooperation framework with the Casablanca Finance City Authority, its Moroccan Counterpart,” he affirmed.

Both Ibrahimi and Li underlined Morocco’s strategic importance as an economic gateway to Asian countries looking to penetrate African Markets.

“Morocco is the first African country to join the ‘New Belt & Road Initiative’, in which Hong Kong plays a key role in promoting regional and international cooperation,” Li explained.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pioneered his “New Belt & Road Initiative” in 2013: A comprehensive global infrastructure development plan to invest over $1 trillion (MAD 8.9 trillion) across nearly 70 different countries.

The investment initiative focuses on large swaths of Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa, intending to replicate China’s historical “Silk Road” trade routes.

Morocco has embraced its role as the bridge between Asian & African Markets.

“Our objective is to develop a strong and long-lasting relationship that will provide companies and economic operators a solid foundation to further grow investments and exchanges between Asia, Morocco, and African Countries,” Ibrahimi said.

The new partnership comes as Asian investment in Africa sits at an all-time high. 

Despite the economic challenges the coronavirus pandemic has posed, China continued to grow cooperation and bilateral trade with African countries in 2020, outpacing even the United States.

Much of China’s investment in Africa centers on infrastructure and technology sectors. One observer noted that “‘Made in China’ technology now serves as the backbone of network infrastructure in several African countries, unbeknownst to millions of users.”

“African countries have established such a high level of cooperation and trade and financial flows that the backbone of their relations should remain stable,” affirmed Arthur Minsat, head of the Africa unit at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“On top of the very strong Chinese-African partnership, the billions of dollars’ worth of projects associated with the Belt & Road Initiative and the harnessing of primary commodities makes it crystal clear that China is here to stay in Africa,” Minsat added.

Moroccan and Chinese delegations will discuss further bilateral cooperation opportunities at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Dakar, Senegal later this year, alongside representatives from nearly every African State.

Author: Luke Tyson