Morocco is considered Japan’s second largest business partner in Africa, after South Africa, with a total of 64 Japanese companies operating in Morocco, said the spokesperson of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Mitsuko Shino, at a press briefing Monday in Rabat.
The number, which is five times larger than ten years ago, constitutes 64 percent of the total number of Japanese companies operating in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.
The Japanese companies in Morocco are operating in different sectors, including “car industry, optic fiber, travel, medical equipment, and zippers”, and are employing about 40,000 people, according to Mitsuko.
Morocco is also an important African destination for “quality infrastructure export.”
Concerning tourism, the Japanese official said that the number of Japanese tourists coming to Morocco has increased since 2011, noting that between 32,000 and 35,000 Japanese have visited Morocco every year in the last 7 years.
When asked by Morocco World News about whether the recent murder of the two Scandinavian women in Imlil could affect Japanese tourism in Morocco, Mitsuko denied that it would pose a problem.
“The incident was quite shocking for Japan,” said Mitsuko. However, the Moroccan “government was successful to arrest the murderers, which is very important for security and makes Morocco different from other vulnerable countries. I think that will less affect tourism.”
Morocco and Japan enjoy good trade relations. Morocco’s exports to Japan amounted to $304.7 million in 2017 while the North African country’s import from Japan totaled $248.5 million during the same year.
Mitsuko gave the press briefing after Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono met his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita on Monday, as part of an official visit to Morocco on December 24-25. This is the first visit to Morocco by a Japanese foreign minister in 31 years.
During the meeting, Kono reaffirmed the positive relationship between Morocco and Japan, “based on political stability and reliability,” which is important for business activities, said Mitsuko.
Both ministers agreed to provide a friendlier environment for the business sector, namely investment, and to avoid double taxation, stressing the need to work together more intensively to strengthen business ties.
In addition to Morocco, the Japanese Minister will also visit Tunisia and Algeria as part of a trip to the Maghreb countries.
Japan and the three North African countries are developing cooperative relations based on south-south and tripartite cooperation, which seeks to support development on the African continent.
By TAREK BAZZA