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EGF Expert Mhamed Biygautane opinion on the Morroco's proposal to join GCC in New York Times
Published on EGF: 08.06.2011
by Mhamed Biygautane
- How does it benefit Morocco to join the GCC?
I think that there is no harm to initially discuss the potential benefits of Morocco’s membership with the GCC, but there are still other questions that have to be answered beforehand. What is the scope of Morocco’s membership in the GCC and what sectors is it going to be involved in? Is it a full membership with privileges of open borders and free movement of people and goods or will it solely cover selected areas like security and trade? So far, we have not heard any specific hints from the GCC regarding the frame of the country’s membership. The news of the GCC welcoming the membership of Morocco was as shocking and surprising for the Moroccans as it was for the rest of the world. The dynamics that resulted in such a decision are still unclear and the last minute invitation to Morocco to join the Cooperation raises many doubts. This also makes it difficult to predict the fate of the Moroccan membership; if the political, economic and social disparities among these countries had not been discussed before the public announcement of the Moroccan membership and solutions were provided, then there could be little hope for Morocco to become a member in the Cooperation once the challenges and problems are on the table of discussions.
However, the two scenarios can benefit Moroccan people and government. Morocco can benefit tremendously from either partial or full membership in the GCC. Given its strategic location over both the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean, Morocco always looked at Europe and the United States as trade partners and focused its trade relations with them. Yet, from a geopolitical perspective, joining the GCC will inaugurate a new page in the history of Morocco’s trade with the world and re-establish the old-rooted trade routes between Almaghrib and Al-mashriqu. Morocco is privileged with young, well educated and well-trained labor force that struggles to find jobs in the country. The Gulf countries have been one of the most desired destinations of these young people to prosper and secure financial and professional stability. Opening the doors of opportunities for these people will undoubtedly benefit their career development and establish an abundant source of remittances for Morocco as well. The Moroccan tourism industry will also witness dramatic development upon joining the GCC. Morocco is already one of the most favorite touristic destinations of Gulf people given its diverse cultural heritage which encompasses Amazighs and Arabs, its natural landscapes, food and weather. Moreover, Gulf businessmen invest heavily in Morocco especially in the real estate industry, and opening the boundaries of the country would result in significant boom in investments and cooperation. Energy is another sector from which Morocco can gain significant benefits. Joining the GCC can give Morocco special privileges like subsidized prices of crude oil and gas.
Under the recent uprisings that have been shaking the Arab world, Morocco’s King Mohammed 6, like other Arab leaders, responded immediately by proposing a historical reform of the constitution and significant limits to his power in the government and decision making. Evidently, Morocco shares the same concerns as the GCC countries, and would support them in case of any aggression from Iran.