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UK’s ambassador in Rabat signals ‘enormous potential’ for Morocco-Gibraltar trade

The UK’s ambassador to Morocco, Thomas Reilly, has signalled the “enormous potential” for trade and commerce between the North African kingdom and Gibraltar after Brexit.

The comments were made during a wide-ranging interview with Spanish newspaper El Español during which Mr Reilly reflected on the UK’s relationship with Morocco.

Last year, the UK and Morocco signed an agreement that established a post-Brexit political and economic association between the UK and Morocco, including a comprehensive free trade area.

The agreement replaces the EU-Morocco agreement and comes into effect at the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020.

The UK-Morocco agreement covers trade in goods and services, including provisions on rules of origin, preferential tariffs and quotas; intellectual property; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; and government procurement.

It replicates wider elements of the EU-Morocco agreement such as provisions on political dialogue and other forms of cooperation, including on human rights and security.

Importantly, there is provision for the agreement to be extended by the UK unilaterally to Gibraltar.

Asked about the potential for business between Morocco and the Rock, Mr Reilly was bullish in his responses.

“There is an enormous opportunity for commerce between Morocco and Gibraltar, especially in respect of renewable energy sources,” Mr Reilly told the Spanish newspaper.

“It would be great to see that electricity line between both.”

“There is also a link between the Moroccan army and the UK’s, there have been joint training exercises [and] I think there are many opportunities in this area.”

Mr Reilly also spoke of Gibraltar’s role as a hub for financial services.

“I think there are many opportunities in that duality between Morocco and Gibraltar, and I think they should be seized,” he said.

“Unfortunately I won’t be around to see it, but it seems to be that there are very interesting mercantile and commercial opportunities.”

“My Prime Minister is a big fan of bridges, and this is a bridge that is symbolic of the union between different peoples.”

This is not the first time that the ambassador has signalled the potential for stronger economic links between Morocco and Gibraltar.

Earlier this year, in an interview with a Moroccan radio station, he reflected on the scope for business in areas such as energy and finance.

“There is provision in the UK-Morocco trade agreement for its unilateral extension to Gibraltar, and other territories for whose external relations the UK is responsible,” a spokesman for No.6 Convent Place said.

“This will not come into force until the end of the transitional period leading to our exit from the European Union.”

“There have always been commercial links between Gibraltar and Morocco and such contacts are led by the private sector.”