Friday, June 17, 2016

China's "$10 billion industrial park" in Morocco

Did you see the one about the "$10 billion industrial park" to be built by a Chinese company in Morocco? Don't hold your breath on this one actually happening, but you can be pretty sure that it will enter some of the "Chinese investment" databases as a real investment.

Here's why I have my doubts. The story I saw, circulated by the Center for Chinese Studies in Stellenbosch -- "Morocco, China to Build Industrial Park with $10 bn Investment" -- comes from an official Chinese media source, Xinhua. You might think this would make it more reliable, but read closely. Xinhua is simply repeating a story they picked up from a Moroccan newsite,  And the so-called investment is simply a memorandum of understanding -- a record of talks.

A quick search reveals that Morocco does hope to set up an industrial park where Chinese firms can manufacture for the European market. An MOU to this effect was signed during Moroccan king Mohammed IV's state visit to China:
"Moreover, Morocco would specially establish a 10 square kilometers industrial zone in the Tangier port in the north Morocco, which is only about 15 miles from Europe, so companies in the industrial zone will be able to send its products to any place in Europe. [Morocco's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation] says that they welcome Chinese companies, especially who are in automobile, textile and astronautics sectors."
 But there is a long way between a discussion and an investment. One African analyst I quoted said that fewer than 5 percent of MOUs ever result in a project. So, as I said, don't hold your breath.

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