Alliance project in Morocco expands as partners raise their ambitions for trade facilitation

Alongside the Moroccan Ministry of Industry and Trade, the National Ports Agency (ANP) and the Moroccan private sector the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation is expanding its work in Morocco.

The project supports the country in its ambitious plan to fully digitise all import and export operations by 2021, cutting the time and cost of trading agri-food products and helping boost inclusive economic growth. As the world tackles the coronavirus pandemic, the importance of digitisation in keeping goods moving along global supply chains becomes even more evident.

Initially, the project’s first component focused on designing and introducing a paperless, automated data exchange between the weigh bridges at Morocco’s main ports and those who use the data, starting with the Port of Casablanca. The weigh bridges, which trucks must visit when both full and empty and which involve paper-based processes, had been identified as a key bottleneck causing traffic congestion within the port – a major issue particularly for those businesses trading perishable products.

Through successful public-private collaboration and studying international best practices, the partners have raised their ambitions for facilitating trade through the Port of Casablanca and decided to move beyond just the weighing process. The newly expanded project scope will see the Alliance supporting ANP to install automatic gates and introduce an ePort ‘Internet-of-Things’ solution capable of tracing truck movements through the port and its service points.

A second component of the project to support Morocco in introducing electronic phytosanitary certificates continues as planned.

The collaboration of all project partners will be crucial in achieving this transformation. ANP will fund IT equipment in the port areas it manages, while Portnet, the national single-window platform for Morocco’s foreign trade, will fund the necessary IT software and maintenance. Once the initial technology is set up, other service points and terminal operators will be able to join the system as they wish. The Alliance will leverage its unique position as a neutral facilitator to manage the project, provide technical advice, and ensure all stakeholders are engaged, including the transporter community.

The project team has already taken a first step towards collaborating on Casablanca’s smart port transformation. A delegation of Moroccan officials and business representatives visited France this winter to learn about the automated traffic management technologies used in the port of Marseille Fos and see how they could be applied to digitise port operations in Casablanca.

Philippe Isler, the Alliance’s director, said: “This project expansion represents an important step forward for trade facilitation in Morocco, particularly at a time when we are seeing the power of digitisation to help border agencies respond to crises. We are proud to be able to support the Moroccan government and ANP in their mission.

“It is fantastic to see how our approach to creating public-private partnerships and knowledge sharing between countries has encouraged our partners to aim higher. As the Moroccan example illustrates, our knowledge exchanges are a source of inspiration as well as technical expertise. We want to ensure that new reforms are in line with international best practice while being adapted to local needs. I believe that the reforms implemented through this project will help boost trade in the Moroccan agri-food sector, a major employer and driver of economic growth.”