Sunday, March 3, 2024

MPs call for closer trade ties with Morocco to support year-round food security

A report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Morocco finds that British consumers are buying Moroccan fresh produce in increasingly larger amounts compared to traditional European countries and calls on the Government to go further to develop this key trading relationship.

The Group has published this report alongside the bilateral Agriculture Review, undertaken by both the UK and Moroccan Governments in Casablanca, Morocco. Key findings include:

The UK and its consumers increasingly benefit from a reliable and high-quality supply of fresh produce from Morocco, helping to ensure that supermarket shelves are well-stocked throughout the year. ONS data shows that:

  • Fruit and vegetable imports from Morocco have almost tripled since 2018, rising from £158m annually to £408m in 2022.
  • Moroccan imports play an increasingly large role in providing fresh fruit and vegetables in the UK’s winter with Q1 2023 imports being £168m almost triple Q1 2018 (£60m). This shows that the two kingdoms’ economies are highly complementary.

Agriculture trade brings substantial local economic benefits to Morocco, which in turn supports social development and furthers the nation’s stability.

The APPG also welcomed efforts made by both Governments to undertake initiatives to develop bilateral agriculture trade. However, recognising that yet more can be done, the APPG has made five recommendations to the UK Government in order to build on this progress:

To further understand the mutual benefits derived from UK / Morocco agriculture trade the UK Government should develop and publish an annual trade impact report.

Industry have asked that the Prime Minister should appoint a new Trade Envoy to Morocco.

Agriculture Reviews should be regularised to enable continuous improvement in the relationship as opportunities continue to emerge.

The UK should seek to establish preferred buyer status within the Moroccan market.

The Government should continue campaigns to raise awareness of the opportunity of UK / Morocco trade.

Commenting on the report, Heather Wheeler OBE MP, Chair of the APPG on Morocco, said: “We’re delighted to publish this report, which shows the great strides taken between the UK and Morocco.

“Agriculture trade is crucial for both our countries, keeping British families well fed with affordable, secure produce and helping economic development in Morocco. I urge the UK government to renew its commitment to bilateral trade to make sure these mutual benefits continue to grow.”

Abir Lemseffer, of the Moroccan business association, the Confederation Generale Des Entreprises du Maroc, said: “Moroccan agriculture is the UK’s most reliable partner, and we’re delighted to play a vital role in keeping supermarkets well stocked with quality fresh produce year-round.

“Trade with the UK has brought enormous economic and social benefits to the people of Morocco and especially in the Sahara region, where much fresh produce is grown. I am delighted that our two Kingdoms have developed such a reliable long term trading partnership, which I am confident will continue to go from strength to strength.”

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