Catalonia and Flanders cancel joint trip to Morocco due to Spanish pressure

  • Spanish diplomats urged Rabat to avoid political meetings with the Catalan government during the trip

02.05.2017 - 15:59
Actualització: 02.05.2017 - 16:00

The Catalan and Flemish governments have decided to suspend a joint commercial mission to Morocco they were due to start on May 7. The trip, which was to be led by Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, and Flemish Minister-President, Geert Bourgeois, was cancelled after the Moroccan government “unilaterally” decided that no political leader from the country would meet with the two presidents. Sources from the Catalan Government told the CNA that Spanish diplomats urged Rabat to avoid political meetings with the Catalan government during the trip. Pugidemont and Bourgeois regretted the decision in a joint press release, warning that it will negatively affect “more than 30 Catalan and Flemish companies” that aimed to improve their commercial relationship with Morocco.

Puigdemont and Bourgeois were due to visit Rabat and Casablanca between May 7 and May 9, and besides taking part in a joint economic seminar to boost synergies between Catalan, Flemish and Moroccan companies, they had scheduled meetings with the Ports National Agency, the Moroccan agency for Renewable Energies and the Regional Centre for Investment.

“The leaders of the joint mission have decided to cancel their participation in the trip after the Moroccan government informed, two weeks before the meetings, that no political representative from the country, from any level, would be welcoming them during their stay,” the Catalan and Flemish press release read.

“President Carles Puigdemont and the Minister-President Geert Bourgeois regret this unilateral decision by the government of Morocco,” they said. In particular, they pointed out the problems that this will have for the “more than 30 Catalan and Flemish companies that wanted to deepen their economic relationships with Morocco”.

Morocco is a priority for Catalonia’s commercial efforts abroad. Exports there have only risen in the last few years, peaking at 1,283 million euros in 2016, a 6% rise in comparison to the year before and almost a fifth of all Spanish exports to the country. Catalonia mostly exports electronical equipment (20.9%), plastics (7.8%) and machinery (6.9%) to Morocco. Currently, there are 5,321 Catalan companies that export to Morocco, 1,676 of these regularly, and up to 50 have offices in the country. Since 1990, Catalonia has an Investment Office in Casablanca to boost the links between Catalan and Moroccan companies and to improve the commercial relationship between both countries.


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