In Marrakech, Bollywood stars are like demi-gods and Hindi films have a captive audience cutting across the age-divide. The Bollywood show at the Marrakesh International Film Festival gets rapturous crowds every year. This cultural chemistry harks back to Ibn Batuta’s famed travels to the courts of Delhi Sultanate in the 14th century, and has now morphed into a vibrant multi-faceted partnership encompassing trade and investment, training, education and films.
In tune with India’s support for anti- colonialism and Third World solidarity, India supported Morocco’s freedom struggle against French colonists during the 1950s, and its subsequent membership in the NAM. India recognized Morocco on June 20, 1956 when it became independent of the protectorate arrangements with France, leading to the setting up of Diplomatic Missions in 1957.
High-level visits have imparted added strength to a growing relationship. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s visit to Rabat in 1999 remains a milestone. King Mohammed VI visited India as first in 1983 as Crown Prince, to attend the NAM Summit, and later in 2001 and in 2003, as the King of Morocco.
Business and Investment
Economic relations are on an upswing, with Morocco becoming the fifth largest African economy with a welcoming business environment and ranked as the most competitive North African economy by the WEF. Bilateral trade between India and Morocco stood at USD 1.36 billion (as of 2014-15). India’s exports to Morocco stood at USD 500 million while India’s imports stood at USD 836 million, with the trade balance tilted in Morocco’s favour largely due to imports of phosphoric acid and rock phosphate by India. An India-Morocco joint venture in fertilizer sector in Morocco, called IMACID, was set up in November 1999, which exports mostly to India. Other business ventures include TATA Motor’s bus manufacturing plant and Ranbaxy’s pharmaceutical unit in Casablanca. Also, the Moroccan phosphate company, OCP, has invested in Paradip Phosphates Ltd. in India. Besides, Indian business organizations such as CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM have agreements with their Moroccan counterparts and regular trade delegations and export promotion councils have been organised.
Playing on its strengths in knowledge industries, India has been assisting in skilling and training of professionals and students from Morocco. The ITEC and ‘Leaders of Future’ programmes for young Parliamentarians (organised by the Ministry of External Affairs) and specific training programmes for parliamentary officials from Arabic-speaking countries (organized by Lok Sabha Secretariat) are some initiatives taken to foster lasting relations with Moroccans.
IT is set to stay as a pillar of India-Morocco relations. Under the bilateral component of the IAFS-II programme, India has offered to set up an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Morocco to train more than 500 students each year over a period of three years. India has also offered to set up a Materials Testing Laboratory for Highways in Morocco.
The Indian community in Morocco is small, with about 250 families living in Casablanca, and a few families in Marrakesh and Tangier. Bollywood and sufi music effortlessly connect minds and hearts. Indian musicians joyously participate in the Fez Festival of Sacred Music, a major global event held in the ancient holy city of Morocco. The sun is set to shine brighter on India-Morocco relations, with Morocco’s thrust on solar energy finding a convergence with India’s plan to scale up solar energy in its renewable energy mix.
(This article was first published in www.iafs.in – the official website of India-Africa Forum Summit-III)
USD 1.36 billion as of 2014-15.
India’s exports: USD 500 million; India’s import: USD 836 million
Investments: TATA Motors, Ranbaxy, Pepsi Co, IMACID, India-Morocco joint venture in fertilizer sector
Moroccan phosphate company, OCP, has invested in Paradip Phosphates Ltd. in India.
Key India-assisted Projects
India has offered to set up an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Morocco to train more than 500 students each year over a period of three years.
India has also offered to set up a Materials Testing Laboratory for Highways in Morocco.
Moroccan candidates also regularly participate in training programmes organised in India under the ITEC programme of the Ministry of External Affairs.
CV Raman International Fellowship Program and other scholarships through ICCR for students wishing to pursue higher education in India.
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