Morocco, Indonesia to promote tourism sector

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Efforts to strengthen commitment to developing cooperation between Morocco and Indonesia are not limited merely to trade but involve also bilateral cooperation in the field of tourism, Ambassador of Morocco to Indonesia Mohamed Majdi said.

"We are focusing on the exchange of experience and expertise, encouraging tour operators from both countries to work together as well as organizing exploratory missions to benefit private investors and operators," he told some members of the Indonesian Muslim Journalists Association (PJMI), businesspeople, academicians and university students here on Friday.

PJMI in collaboration with the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) Indonesia, State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah held a Ramadhan Dialogue Series with ambassadors from African countries including Morocco.

B. Dharmawan, Deputy Director of Center for Policy Analysis and Development on Asia Pacific and African Region, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DR. Arisman, Director Executive of CSEAS Indonesia, Parni Hadi, senior journalist, and Mohammad Anthoni, chariman of PJMI attended the forum.

"The focus will be partnership opportunities in training and quality of Moroccan and Indonesian travel agencies," Ambassador Majdi said.

Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Marie E. Pangestu and her Moroccan counterpart decided in March 2013 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to that effect and would be implemented in the near future.

Trade between the two countries is on a positive trend as shown by the increasing volume of trade from $35.99 million in 2003 to $119 in 2007 and $277 million in 2012.

Indonesia imports from Morocco fertilizers, chemical, iron and steel tools while exporting coffee, natural rubber, glassware, palm oil, spices, tea, furniture and garments to Morocco in return.

"Although trade is on an upward trend, it is still low and doesnt reflect the expectation and the potential of both countries," he said.

According to him, authorities are aware of this situation and are making every effort in order to improve trade relations through contacts between business people and the organization of economic forums.

Since 2010 Moroccan business people have visited Indonesia at least once a year during the organization of the yearly Jakarta Fair and used this opportunity to visit other regions of Surabaya and to meet their counterparts in Jakarta as well in other provinces.

On the Indonesian side a visit made by the Chamber of Commerce of Surabaya under the chairmanship of a businessman and nevertheless Honorary Council of Morocco to Surabaya Jamal Ghozi.

The visit was followed by the organization of a forum in the Moroccan city of Rabat under the theme "Opportunities and Challenges for Strengthening Trade Relations between Indonesia and Morocco" last year. This event, attended by many Moroccan ministers and highly other ranking officials, was also an opportunity for Indonesia to display and show to Moroccans the quality and varieties of its products in many fields.

In May 2014 and at the initiative of the Islamic Center for Development and Trade in Casablanca, a meeting was organized in order to examine ways and means for enhancing cooperation between Indonesia and Morocco. The meeting revolves around the promotion of Indonesian products in Morocco mainly in agroindustry, handicraft, textile and mode, cement and oil.

"The organization of such forum reflects the will of Indonesia whose economy is one of the fastest growing in Asia to expand its share in non-traditional markets like Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. It reflects also the will of the countrys investors to be very active abroad," Ambassador Majdi said.

Morocco as Gateway

According to him, Morocco is one the most promising countries in Africa and Middle East and North African region and positions itself as a gateway to Africa and as an entry point to market of one billion customers.

With an annual per capita income of more than $5,000 Morocco is considered a medium sized market of 32 million people. However, he said that Morocco could become a base for Indonesia to enter larger markets of the European Union and North America.

Morocco has Free Trade Agreements with the US, European Union, Turkey, United Arab Emirates , Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and currently engaged in negotiations with Canada for the conclusion of a Free Trade Agreement.

The two countries are also interested in cooperating in agriculture, particularly in the field of agricultural research and the exchange of agricultural experts.

Contacts also have been made in order to explore the possibilities of importing phosphoric acid from Morocco and opportunities of cooperation and partnership in the field of fertilizers.

"If cooperation in the economy and trade areas have yet to meet our expectation, both countries highly value their political and diplomatic cooperation as well as their cooperation in religious and media fields," he said.  (M016/BSR/A014)