Exclusive: Why Was Morocco's Admission to ECOWAS Postponed

(MENAFN- Morocco World News) Rabat - While the decision was supposed to be taken this weekend during the 52nd Summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Morocco will have to wait until 2018 to hear the final verdict on its application for membership. Until this morning, King Mohammed VI was expected to land this weekend in Abuja, Nigeria, for the 52nd Summit of the ECOWAS. This African rendez-vous was set to clear up the highly anticipated decision on Morocco's accession to the ECOWAS. However, this long-awaited decision has been postponed "until the first quarter of 2018, and will be announced in an extraordinary session," a source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Morocco World News. While many media outlets presented "political reservations" as the reason behind this postponement, stating that "the Polisario and its allies," namely Nigeria, weighted on this sudden delay, MWN's source affirms that this couldn't be farther from the truth. In fact, this postponement was decided in close consultation with Morocco, "due to the late finalization of the impact report of this membership." The document in question, "had not been submitted until December 7," disclosed the source. This 70-page-long study, carried out by ECOWAS, was requested by the commission on June 4 in Monrovia. The report evokes the impact of Morocco's accession to the ECOWAS, and in this sense, its ability to canalize investments as the second biggest economic partner of ECOWAS, after South Africa. "It was the unanimous decision of the ECOWAS Heads of State, who felt that they did not have enough time to go through the report," explained the source. The second reason, far from all the speculations presented by some media outlets, is that "the 52nd Summit's agenda will be too congested to discuss such major matter," they added. In fact, this weekend will be a busy one in Abuja, as the 52nd Summit is expected to tackle a multitude of urgent matters, including those related to the crises affecting countries in the West African subregions, including Guinea Bissau and Togo, not to mention the G5 Sahel issue, which includes ECOWAS member countries. This is mainly why the Commission decided to devote, this time, an extraordinary session specifically dedicated to the question of "Morocco's integration into ECOWAS." The session will be held in the "first quarter of 2018 in the presence of King Mohammed VI," the source added. Early June 2017, the ECOWAS had given in Monrovia its agreement in principle to Morocco's application for membership due to the "strong and multidimensional links of cooperation" that bind the kingdom to the states of this sub-regional organization. In recent years, Morocco has led a real commercial and diplomatic offensive on the African continent. The kingdom reintegrated the African Union (AU) in early 2017 after 33 years of absence and then applied to ECOWAS, whose 15 members represent about 320 million inhabitants, with a total GDP of more than USD 700 billion. West Africa makes up Morocco's largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa: Moroccan exports to West Africa have tripled since 2008, jumping from MAD 3.2 to 10.2 billion in 2016, according to a report published this year by Morocco's Foreign Exchange Office. Moroccan direct investment in this region also nearly doubled between 2011 and 2015, jumping from MAD 295 million to 1.6"


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