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Morocco and Australia: 2017, a pivotal year for bilateral relations

 

The year 2017 was a major turning point in Moroccan-Australian relations. The two countries have shown a real political will to reinforce bilateral ties and seize the possibilities of a win-win partnership. Besides, the officials of both countries underlined on many occasions the need to put in place a strong structure to improve cooperation in a number of sectors, particularly trade, investment, peace, security, the fight against international terrorism, climate change, and governance.

These bilateral relations have witnessed new dynamics during this year, being reinforced through the exchange of visits of High Level Officials of both countries.

Many Moroccan High-Level Officials paid a visit to Australia during this year, contributing therefore to the reinforcement of the excellent ties between the two countries.

In this regard, the Chargé de Mission at the Royal Cabinet, Mr. Youssef Amrani paid a visit to Australia, initiated by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco, in order to give lectures on “Evolutions in the Middle East and the North African Region” in several think-tanks in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, notably the Australian Institute for Strategic Policy (ASPI), the Australian Institute of International Relations (AIIA) and the Lowy Institute.

In the field of fight against extremism, the Secretary General of the Mohammedan League of Scholars, Dr. Ahmed Abbadi visited Australia, where he held a series of meetings and activities, introducing the Moroccan experience in the field of counter-terrorism and deradicalization.

At the cultural level, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco organised the visit of Mr. Mehdi Qotbi, President of the National Foundation of Museums which has paved the way for a close cooperation with several Museums and modern Art Centres in order to exhibit their works in the Moroccan Museums.

Furthermore, the Ambassador of His Majesty the King to Australia, Mr. Karim MEDREK paid various visits to the different Australian States and Territories, notably New South Wales, Victoria and Southern Australia where he met with personalities from local governments, economic institutions, universities and think-tanks in order to examine the most propitious ways of enhancing cooperation between the Kingdom of Morocco and the previously mentioned states.

The year 2017 has been marked by the establishment of the Australia-Morocco parliamentary friendship group in Canberra, a vital vector in strengthening relations between Canberra and Rabat. This parliamentary friendship group reflects the excellent Moroccan-Australian relations which are marked by friendship and mutual respect and aims to further strengthen these ties.

In terms of regional and local cooperation, a delegation of Moroccan elected representatives paid a working visit to Australia to promote the exchange of experiences with Australian local authorities. Organised by the Moroccan Embassy in Australia in coordination with the Council for Australia-Arab Relations (CAAR), this working visit was an opportunity to learn about the Australian experience of local management, including the plan of regionalization and decentralization.

This year has also been marked by the appointment of Australia's first Ambassador to Rabat last June, marking the prelude to a new era in the relations between Canberra and Rabat, as the opening of the new embassy paves the way to closer collaboration on different segments of bilateral, political, strategic, economic and cultural cooperation.

During the same year, distinguished Australian officials such as the Minister of Trade, Mr. Steven Ciobo and the Prime Minister's Special Envoy to the Francophone States, Mr. Bill Fisher paid a visit to the Kingdom of Morocco in order to strengthen bilateral cooperation in their respective fields.

On the economic level, the two countries launched, in Marrakesh, the Australia-Morocco Business Council (AMBC), whose main objective is to promote relations and bonds of friendship between business communities in Australia and Morocco. It constitutes a propitious platform for meetings, interaction and exchange of ideas, experiences and information on business opportunities, regulations, investment opportunities and market dynamics between Australia and Morocco.

In the same vein, this year has been marked by visits of delegations of Australian Businessmen to Morocco in order to explore the various commercial and economic opportunities.

Concerning tourism, it is worth mentioning that Morocco has become a very popular destination for Australian tourists who visit the Kingdom to discover the richness of its heritage, its remarkable cultural diversity and its civilization rooted in history. According to recent statistics, the Kingdom hosts nearly 45,000 Australian tourists annually.

Moreover, the Embassy participated brilliantly in this year’s edition of the Multicultural Festival of Canberra. The Moroccan stall has been visited by thousands of Australians who expressed their interest in the historical richness, the geographical and cultural diversity of the Kingdom and their admiration for the beauty of Moroccan art craft and the elegance of the Moroccan costume.

Besides, The Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Australia organised its « Academic Week » aimed at reinforcing interaction with some of the academic institutions established in Canberra and introducing Australian students to the different facets of political, economic and cultural life in Morocco. In the academic field, efforts are under way to launch cooperation programs between the two countries in the upcoming years.