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China Partners with Morocco to Establish Pivotal Electric Battery Hub

Tuesday 11 June 2024 - 11:30
China Partners with Morocco to Establish Pivotal Electric Battery Hub

In a significant development marking a strategic collaboration between China and Morocco, Chinese companies are channeling substantial investments into transforming the North African nation into a key hub for electric car battery production and export. With investments amounting to at least €2.45 billion, this initiative aims to capitalize on Morocco’s strategic geographical position and its robust automotive ecosystem to serve Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

The latest milestone in this burgeoning partnership is the announcement that Gotion High-Tech, a prominent Chinese group, will establish a battery gigafactory in Morocco. This move is part of a broader trend, with at least six Chinese companies planning to set up battery-related factories in the country. This effort is strongly supported by the Moroccan government, which is keen on positioning the nation as a leader in the electric vehicle sector.

Over the past two years, commercial ties between China and Morocco have strengthened significantly. Morocco’s automotive industry, which currently produces 700,000 cars annually for global brands like Stellantis and Renault, is transitioning from traditional thermal engines to electric motors to meet the rising demand in Europe.

“Morocco is making a very strong commitment to the electric vehicle sector,” said Hicham Chaoudri, Investment Director of the Ministry of Investment and Evaluation of Public Policies, in an interview with EFE. He highlighted that Morocco is the first non-EU country to export cars to the European Union, underscoring its pivotal role in the automotive supply chain.

Chaoudri explained that Morocco is turning to China for this transformation because of China’s leading position in the electric vehicle industry. The bilateral relationship between the two countries was bolstered by a 2016 visit to Beijing by King Mohammed VI. This was further solidified in January 2022 when the foreign ministers of both nations signed an agreement under China’s “New Silk Roads” initiative to facilitate the establishment of Chinese enterprises in Morocco.

Following a visit to China by Moroccan Investment Minister Mouhcin Jazouli in April 2023, a series of investment projects have been announced. The most notable is Gotion’s €1.2 billion investment in a factory in Kenitra, which already hosts an automotive ecosystem around the Stellantis plant.

In the Tangier Tech technological complex, located near the Tangier Med mega-port, Hunan Zhongke Shinzoom Technology announced plans last month to invest €460 million in a new factory that will employ 1,500 people. Additionally, BTR New Material Group disclosed in March that it will invest €278 million in another factory within the same zone to produce 50,000 tons of cathodes annually.

Morocco’s abundant resources, including phosphates, manganese, and cobalt, are a significant draw for Chinese investment. However, Chaoudri emphasized other crucial factors such as the country’s economic and political stability, advanced infrastructure including Tangier Med, highways, and a high-speed train network connecting key cities.

Moreover, Morocco boasts a young, qualified workforce and benefits from around fifty free trade agreements with regions such as the EU and the US. The country’s current automotive industry is also notable for its use of wind and solar energy.

In addition to the Tangier and Kenitra areas, Chinese companies are eyeing Casablanca, Morocco’s economic hub, for further expansion. The Casablanca port authority recently announced a new freight line connecting to the Chinese province of Sichuan. In Casablanca, the Chinese CNGR, in partnership with Morocco’s royal family’s holding company Al Mada, plans to establish an industrial base for various battery components and recycling to cater to the growing demand in Europe and the United States.

Furthermore, Zhejiang Hailiang intends to invest €264 million in a new plant in Casablanca to manufacture sheets for lithium batteries. Another Chinese company, Tinci Materials, is in discussions with the Moroccan government to relocate its electrolyte project from the Czech Republic to Casablanca.

This strategic partnership between China and Morocco is poised to significantly impact the global electric vehicle market, leveraging Morocco’s strategic advantages and China’s technological prowess to create a robust supply chain for electric vehicle batteries.

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