On 27 February the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with the support of the Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) organised a day of discussion under the banner of “Stimulating growth and investment during transition” in Casablanca. The event was arranged in cooperation with the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM), the Centre for Young Leaders (CJD) and the Moroccan Association of Businesswomen (AFEM).
About 380 participants attended the conference, including top policy-makers and business representatives from Morocco, central and eastern Europe and Turkey. The event is the third in a series of discussions under the “Transition to Transition” EBRD-led initiative organised in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region. The initiative, launched in 2011, aims to facilitate a peer-to-peer exchange of experiences between countries that have undergone a transitional process in central and eastern Europe and countries from the southern and eastern Mediterranean region.
In the opening session, Morocco’s Minister of Economy and Finance, Nizar Baraka, said his country’s key development challenges included economic diversification, productivity and competitiveness, development of small and medium-sized enterprises to boost employment and improving economic governance.
Moroccan Minister of Industry, Commerce and New Technology, AbdelKader Aamara said: “We know our priority is to create jobs, for the young especially. We also know this is not easy.”
With 20 years of experience in central and eastern Europe in supporting economic growth and facilitating the transition process in the region, the EBRD now has a new mandate in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region to support the development of local economies.
The EBRD's Chief Economist Erik Berglof said: “Much has been achieved in Morocco’s transition, but this also means that there are less low-hanging fruit. Transition will take time, but social pressures are immense. Creating opportunities for broader segments of society and doing so today are key challenges.” He added: “Morocco must find a path towards more inclusive and sustainable growth. The EBRD can help support small and medium-sized firms and bring municipal services, like water and sewage plants, to broader segments of society.”
The Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) which works on regional integration and common development challenges across the Mediterranean, is developing dialogue and analytical support for countries from the south Mediterranean to promote a sustainable and integrated development. “In line with the G-8 Deauville Partnership recommendations, this conference is meant to give impetus and support to the continuing transition in Morocco. Valuable new jobs will be created mostly in small and medium-sized private enterprises,” Mats Karlsson, the director of CMI said. “The more Moroccan business is integrated with global and regional value chains, linking up with export markets, the more and better jobs will be created. We are particularly interested in working with Morocco on a knowledge economy approach,” he said.
Senior eastern Europeans shared their experience on transition, including Gordon Bajnai, the former Hungarian Prime Minister, who stressed that: “After 1989, we expected the progress to be linear. It was not the case for us and it will not be for Morocco and the country has to be prepared for that.” Serbia's former Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic added to this challenge the necessity to improve the business climate to attract foreign investments, saying: “It is important to establish the rule of law. Without that, investors will not come. ”
Five interactive roundtable discussions shared experiences and enlarged on different topics related to development challenges. The discussions focused on promoting growth and employment, modernising the agribusiness value chain, promoting renewable energies, financing private enterprise and the role of private equity investment.