Since the normalisation of their diplomatic relations in December 2020, Morocco and Israel have strengthened their economic ties. This dynamic has opened up new opportunities for cooperation in various sectors, including tourism, hydrocarbons, renewable energy, agriculture and new technologies.
The first direct commercial flights between Israel (with nearly one million citizens of Moroccan origin) and Morocco were established in July 2021, and cooperation agreements with the Moroccan National Tourism Office (ONMT) were signed to strengthen air connections between the two countries. As a result, in 2022, Morocco welcomed nearly 200,000 Israeli tourists and business travellers, four times more than in the pre-Covid period. Many have made this trip outside of professional imperatives: to enjoy leisure and culture, or because of their family roots ... Tourism is indeed a key sector for relations between the two countries and employs nearly one in five Moroccans.
In the opposite direction, many delegations from the Moroccan business world (notably via the CGEM, the main Moroccan employers' union) have made business trips to Israel to explore the possibilities of bilateral cooperation.
Other indicators of the warming of Moroccan-Israeli relations include cooperation in hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation, as well as the development of partnerships in the renewable energy and water sectors. A year ago, the Israeli group Gandyr, through its subsidiary Marom, signed an agreement with Gaia Energy Morocco, setting the objective of a significant investment in the energy sector in 2023-2024.
In addition, one of the world leaders in the irrigation sector, the company Netafim, the only Israeli company officially present in Morocco for several decades, has recently inaugurated a production unit in Kenitra.
Several Israeli companies are also very interested in projects in water supply. This is the meaning of the alliance forged in November 2022 between the heads of the National Office of Electricity and Water (Onee) of Morocco and the National Water Company of the State of Israel (Mekorot), providing for cooperation in the desalination of sea water, in terms of research, development and capacity building. In Israel, 85% of wastewater was recycled in 2022 and nearly 80% of the drinking water consumed in Israel is supplied by five seawater desalination plants (according to official estimates). This is a trend that Morocco would like to emulate to achieve a water purification rate of 80% by 2050.
Note that the Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines du Maroc (ONHYM) also signed an agreement in late 2021 with the company Ratio Gibraltar, a subsidiary of the Israeli oil company Ratio Petroleum. This agreement concerns the implementation of hydrocarbon and gas exploration work off Dakhla. Ratio Petroleum will hold 75% of the rights in the future licences (the remaining 25% will be held by the Moroccan state) in an area of 109,000 square kilometres.
In terms of trade and investment, the two countries aim to quadruple their trade to more than 500 million dollars per year. Numerous visits by Israeli officials and government members to Rabat since 2022 have confirmed the economic rapprochement between the two states. In this sense, the Moroccan Minister of Industry and Trade stressed that the trade agreements signed include discussions for the creation of industrial zones in Morocco, cooperation between the private sectors of both countries and the exchange of expertise in the area of innovation.
Finally, the upcoming conclusion of negotiations on a tax convention and a free trade agreement will provide businesses in both countries with a legal framework more conducive to trade and investment.
The normalisation of relations between Morocco and Israel has expanded the fields of strategic cooperation, including the implementation of infrastructure projects and the creation of business parks. Boost for employment and economic gains shared between the two countries, these new projects also represent promising sectors for the practice of law and business between the two countries, on which Gide is positioned.