Tangier overlooks not just the Strait of Gibraltar but also a sea of opportunities with the launch of the Mediterranean’s largest port just 14 km away from the European southern coastline. The city on Morocco’s northern shore has evolved from a melting pot of Arabs, Jews, Berbers and residents and visitors from different Western European societies to become an international trade and logistics hub today. High-speed trains connect Tangier to the capital city Rabat and also Casablanca, and modern highways link it to the rest of the vast country.
The fact that these major infrastructure projects and strategic investments have been supported by the European Investment Bank (EIB) demonstrates the eagerness of the EU to enhance competitiveness and connectivity in Morocco. This is also the case with the extension of the Tanger Med Port, which hosts a state-of-art facility special economic zone in the vicinity of Tangier City, offering administrative, fiscal, customs advantages for investors. The container capacity of the port is projected to increase to 9 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) after the recent inauguration of a second port facility Tanger Med 2, making it the biggest port in Africa and in the Mediterranean.
The Tanger Med Port is strategically situated on the Strait of Gibraltar where the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea meet and where also African and European continents embrace each other. Major European and international companies have established themselves in Tanger Med Port, including for the automotive and other industries and also as port operators – it is telling that three out of four terminals of Tanger Med are operated by leading European port operators. Europe’s very proximity, cost of production, availability and good quality of human resources, facility for import and export, tax incentives, stability of dirham to euro and possibility to retain talent are highlighted as the main factors by international companies for choosing to invest in the Tanger Med.
The EU has an Association Agreement with Morocco and both partners have recently re-launched negotiations for a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. The EU is Morocco’s number one trading partner and the expanded Tanger Med presents new opportunities for enhancing the EU-Morocco partnership in general and for European companies in particular as it facilitates access to booming markets in West Africa and beyond. The EU has traditionally seen Morocco as a key partner in the Euro-African and the Euro-Mediterranean area, whereby the two parties gave a new impetus to their ‘strategic, multidimensional and privileged partnership’ last month by launching a ‘Euro-Moroccan Partnership for Shared Prosperity’.