Morocco: Crucial partner for Italy, yes to free trade area

Talks in Rabat for Massari, Mediterranean special envoy

02 February, 15:20

Italy's Special Envoy fort the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Maurizio Massari. Italy's Special Envoy fort the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Maurizio Massari.

(ANSAmed) - ROME - Morocco is "a crucial partner" for Italy, "both in terms of bilateral relations and as an element of stability for North Africa". This is the message sent to the Moroccan government and political forces in Rabat by Italy's special envoy for the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Maurizio Massari, who is making his first visit to the region.

Massari told his Moroccan partners that Italy would make efforts to ensure that "Europe increases its attention and economic collaboration with North Africa and the Mediterranean". The first important step will be the vote in mid-February, with which the European Parliament is due to approve a free trade and market area with Morocco, a key issue for the country's development. Speaking after the round of talks in Rabat last night and this morning, Massari told ANSA that this was "a strong political and economic gesture towards the nation, and Italy has ensured its support".

The special envoy of Italy's Foreign Minister, Giulio Terzi, also met Morocco's Finance Minister, Mizar Baraka, the Communications Minister (and government spokesperson), Mustapha Khalfi, and the Agriculture Minister, Aziz Akhannouch. Massari also spoke to the President of the Chamber of Deputies and to representatives of a handful of political parties, including the moderate Islamic party Justice and Development, which has a relative majority.

"I have arrived from Italy with a message of serious interest and appreciation for Morocco, both as a bilateral partner and as an element of stability. I have expressed Italy's support for the process of democratisation and openness implemented by the Moroccan monarchy," Massari said.

In bilateral terms, Massari said that there is "strong interest from Morocco in stepping up economic and political cooperation with Italy". Talks with the government focussed on boosting economic cooperation and the presence of Italian investors, especially in the sectors of infrastructure, renewable energy, logistics and food and agriculture. Massari said that talks with the Agriculture Minister involved "in-depth talks on schemes aimed at boosting relations between Italy and Morocco in the food and agriculture sector".

Terzi's envoy will ì move on to Tunis and Egypt next week to analyse relations with the countries, both close allies of Italy, which are overseeing processes of openness and democratisation. (ANSAmed).

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