Industry Minister of Morocco and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries signed a memorandum of understanding on aerospace cooperation, on 24 March 2022, in Rabat.
The agreement is another part of growing collaboration between the two countries and includes convening a joint military commission to sign a joint action plan, the Israeli army’s Arabic spokesperson Avichay Adraee said.
Amir Peretz, the Moroccan-born IAI board chairman, and former Israeli defence minister said in a statement that “the agreement is an additional step in creating a new partnership between IAI and the aviation and space industries in Morocco”.
The strategic partnership will also involve the establishment of a research and engineering centre, according to the statement. Also, it follows a joint declaration signed in December 2020 on expanding cooperation in investment and technology.
Moroccan Industry and Trade Minister Ryad Mezzour, in the statement, said the agreement “responds to national priorities to promote advanced training, employment, local manufacturing, as well as R&D and innovation.”
While local media said the memorandum did not include a military component, it comes as tensions soar between Morocco and neighbouring Algeria, especially over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
Israel is one of the world’s top exporters of armed drones and there was also an earlier report by Moroccan and Israeli media about a $22-million deal, not officially confirmed, between Rabat and IAI for kamikaze drones.
Also, in the same month, Israel and Morocco signed a security agreement for Rabat to acquire high-tech exports from Israel’s defence industry.
Rabat normalized ties with the Jewish state in December 2020, shortly after similar announcements were made by the UAE and Bahrain.
Several high-level Israeli officials, including Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai, have since visited and signed cooperation agreements including in technology, security, the military, and trade.
Israel is home to some 700,000 Jews of Moroccan descent.
The agreement includes co-operation on exercises and intelligence, according to Israeli media. There was no official comment from Morocco.
Last month they signed the first economic and trade agreements since formalizing ties to quadruple their annual trade to more than $500 million. The agreement was signed as the two countries push for closer economic ties after resuming their diplomatic relationship last year.
Morocco’s government has encouraged investment in the country by aerospace suppliers in recent years, hoping to match its success in car manufacturing, creating hubs to shorten supply chains and share expertise.
As part of this partnership, Morocco and IAI have identified investment opportunities focusing on 3D printing, the manufacture of cabin interiors and engine parts and aerostructures, as well as the establishment of an R&D and engineering centre and the development of an ecosystem of local suppliers through sourcing partnerships with IAI.
During its stay in Morocco, the IAI delegation visited, on 22 March, the aeronautical centre of Nouaceur to learn about the achievements of the Moroccan aviation industry and its rise in skills, the investment potential in Morocco in the sector as well as the capacity for local development in the maintenance and transformation of aircraft.
Boaz Levy, the IAI president and CEO, stated that the agreement would “help promote joint and commercial projects in the aviation industry”.