The Belgian Royal Palace announced at the end of last week that Princess Astrid would lead an economic mission to Morocco in November. The mission will run from the 25th to the 30th of November and visit the Moroccan cities of Rabat, Tangier and Casablanca. She will be accompanied by several regional and federal ministers, as well as representatives of the Walloon Agency for Export and Foreign Investment (AWEX) and those of the Brussels Invest & Export organisation.
Princess Astrid is the younger sister of King Phillipe and is an active member of the Belgian Royal Family. She has completed extensive work throughout the world championing causes both connected with anti-personnel mines also work on pandemics and epidemics. But this is not the Princess’s first trade mission, acting on behalf of the King; in the last five or six years, she has visited many countries, including Angola and South Africa, India, Malaysia and Singapore, Columbia & Peru, and Canada, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Trade wise Morocco is an interesting country as it has more trade with European countries than it does with its Arab neighbours. About three-quarters of foreign money invested in Morocco is from Europe, despite a trade deal between the EU and Morocco failing in 2015, due to the disputed territory annexed by Morocco in the Western Sahara region. Prime investors in Morocco are France and Spain, though the Moroccans have also signed an agreement with the Americans. It is clear that Belgium does not want to be left behind as far as economic opportunities are concerned.
As far as both imports and exports are concerned, Morocco already does substantial trade with several European countries, with France and Spain taking the lead, hardly surprising considering their proximity, but Germany is not far behind. Interestingly for those who question the power of monarchies in the twenty-first century, many countries use members of their royal families to lead trade delegations, and no doubt we will see continue to see members of the British Royal Family also being used for trade missions post-Brexit.