Morocco‘s Africa-to-Europe Commercial Corridor

Michaël Tanchum: Morocco's Africa-to-Europe Commercial Corridor: Gatekeeper of an emerging trans-regional strategic architecture, AIES Fokus 8/2020



Morocco's West-Africa-to-Western-Europe commercial transportation corridor is redefining the geopolitical parameters of the global scramble for Africa and, with it, the strategic architecture of the Mediterranean basin. By massively expanding the port capacity on its Mediterranean coast, Morocco has surpassed Spain and is poised to become the dominant maritime hub in the western Mediterranean. Having constructed Africa's first high-speed rail line, Morocco's extension of the line to the Mauritanian border, will transform Morocco into the preeminent connectivity node in the nexus of commercial routes that connect West Africa to Europe and the Middle East.

While Morocco is commonly referred to as the 'Gateway to Africa', the country's program of ambitious transportation and industrial infrastructure projects, initiated by its visionary monarch King Mohammed VI, has conferred upon Morocco the role of geopolitical gatekeeper in a new global competition for the manufacturing value chains in the West-Africa-to-Western-Europe Corridor. As such, Morocco itself has become an arena of global competition in which China, Russia, and the Arab Gulf states are playing increasingly significant roles.

Although the French-led European industrial manufacturing chain predominates in Morocco, France remains bereft of European partners willing to play a strategic role in Morocco's infrastructure development. This gap creates a potential for Beijing to exploit its expanding role in Morocco's infrastructure development to re-orient manufacturing value chains in Morocco toward China's Belt and Road Initiative. The configuration of Africa-to-Europe value chains that result from how Morocco manages its set of foreign partnerships will establish the geopolitical framework of this emerging trans-regional commercial architecture for years to come.

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