Economy minister travels to Morocco to deepen trade ties

Barbivai scheduled to visit Israeli companies, meet officials; says country ‘has great importance for Israel’

Economy Minister Orna Barbivai at the Economy Ministry in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)
Economy Minister Orna Barbivai at the Economy Ministry in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

RABAT, Morocco — An Israeli minister arrived in Morocco on Sunday for a visit aimed at developing economic and trade ties, in the latest sign of expanding cooperation after the countries normalized relations in 2020.

Economy Minister Orna Barbivai is due to sign “a historic cooperation agreement” aiming to establish “the economic foundations of trade relations between Morocco and Israel,” her ministry said in a statement.

She is scheduled to visit Rabat, economic capital Casablanca and tourist hub Marrakesh, to tour Israeli textile and agricultural companies and to meet ministers and business representatives on the four-day trip.

“Morocco has great importance for Israel diplomatically, economically and culturally,” she said before the visit, on which she is accompanied by her Moroccan-born husband.

Bilateral trade between Israel and Morocco amounted to about $130 million last year.

The trip comes less than three months after Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz made an unprecedented visit in November, signing a security pact that angered Morocco’s neighbor and rival Algeria, and the Palestinians.

Benny Gantz, center, is welcomed by Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, in Rabat, Morocco, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021. (AP/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

After his visit, Israeli and Moroccan media reported Rabat’s purchase of Israeli defense technology.

Israel and Morocco had initially established relations in the 1990s, but Rabat broke them off at the start of the second Palestinian intifada (uprising) in 2000.

Cooperation has expanded swiftly since ties were re-established as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords in late 2020.

National carrier Royal Air Maroc is expected to start direct flights between Casablanca and Tel Aviv on March 13.

Morocco reopened its borders earlier this month after shutting them in November due to the coronavirus, and is hoping for a large influx of Israeli tourists.

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