Merchant fleet flying the Moroccan flag: can we still count on State support?
dakar cassablanca | Shipping Line | SupplyChain | transport
Par Ibrahima DIALLO
22 November 2023 / 15:19

In the opinion of transport professionals interviewed by Le360, building a national merchant marine fleet requires a global vision involving both the private and public sectors, and in which banks are called upon to play a major role.

In his speech to mark the 48th anniversary of the Green March, the King called for thought to be given to the idea of developing a strong, competitive national merchant marine fleet. The royal initiative was greeted with great enthusiasm by players in the foreign trade ecosystem, who also see it as a way of putting an end to the monopoly of foreign companies.

"If we want to launch a link between Casablanca and Dakar, we need to ensure the continuity of trade flows between the two countries, so as to be able to fill and make the ship profitable in both directions (outward and return)," explains this investor, for whom State support is essential to accompany operators investing in new maritime services.

"For a long time, we have approached almost all the ministers who have succeeded each other at the head of the Ministry of Transport. The idea of a fleet flying the Moroccan flag is of little concern to them", he added.

Our interlocutor deplores the "lack of interest" shown by Moroccan officials, who, in his view, have so far failed to deal with this issue properly.

As a result, since the demise of the country's shipping flagships (Comarit, Comanav and IMTC), accentuated by the liberalization of the sector in 2007, Morocco no longer has a merchant shipping fleet, apart from a few ships operating between Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar, belonging to the companies AML and Intershipping.

The Moroccan container shipping market remains dominated by the behemoths Maersk, MSC and CMA-CGM. There has also been a noticeable deterioration in available supply, as foreign companies operating in Morocco use old ships that have already been depreciated elsewhere, continues the same source.

During his recent appearance before Parliament, Transport and Logistics Minister Mohamed Abdeljalil announced that, in response to the Sovereign's request during the Green March celebrations, his department was preparing to launch a strategic study.

The Minister specified that this study would enable a diagnosis of the sector to be made, with a view to bringing it into line with international best practice. "In terms of supply, we're starting from scratch. It's a highly capital-intensive sector. We need to bring together all the conditions likely to encourage investment in this field", maintains this member of the Fédération du transport et de la logistique (FTL).

Banks are also called upon to play an essential role, he added, not ruling out the idea of creating a dedicated public company, backed by the State, following the example of air transport and the specific case of Royal Air Maroc.

Wadie El Mouden

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