Morocco has always been attached to its African identity. He fought to regain his place with pride and honor within the African Union in 2017 and again and again reaffirms his commitment to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ZLECAF).
In the card of ” Questions to an expert“, Jamal Machrouh, Senior Fellow at the Policy Center For The New South (PCNS) and professor in international relations answers the question of the security challenges facing the African continent, and whether they are not an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of the ZLECAF.
First, the expert recalls that “The establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area is a major geo-economic event. It is the largest free trade area in the world in terms of the number of member countries ”, noting that “The economic opportunities that the ZLECAF conceals are considerable”.
However, he said, the obstacles that can hinder the realization and performance of the Zone are many, including those of a security nature that the continent faces.e.
“It is well known that the economic aspect is strongly impacted by security and vice versa. This is, moreover, the reason why the African Union (AU) has adopted since 2002 an African Peace and Security Architecture. Such an architecture has made significant advances at the institutional and normative levels. The operational side still leaves much to be desired“, Says Jamal Machrouh.
On the question of the current state of regional integration in Africa, and if it affects the credibility of the ZLECAF at the international level, he explains that regional integration projects in Africa are old and above all multiple. It thus indicates that ” eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are recognized by the African Union and many other communities are operational. However, what international experts, including Africans, retain, is the low degree of integration generated by these communities. Africans only trade with each other just under 15% of their total trade, compared to over 60% in Europe“.
The other question raised in this analysis is whether the ZLECAF could be a powerful tool to make Moroccan foreign policy more continental. For Jamal Machrouh, “ Moroccan foreign policy, for more than twenty years, has already been strongly oriented towards Africa. Morocco’s trade with other African countries and Moroccan FDI in Africa have made remarkable progress. Now, what ZLECAF could add to this achievement is the possibility of placing Morocco’s African economic policy under a global and continental dimension to strengthen its regional dimension.“.