Council of Europe study highlights corruption risks in Morocco foreign trade ministry

RABAT, Morocco – Morocco has been slow to implement anti-corruption measures in its new constitution and there are corruption risks at the Ministry of Foreign Trade — the first point of contact for foreign investors — the Council of Europe said in a report Thursday.

The study, which was funded by the European Union and obtained by The Associated Press, examined the Ministry of Foreign Trade and found inadequate measures in place to stop corruption.

The report cited “important shortcomings and malfunctions” and said new constitutional measures against corruption are only being “sluggishly implemented.”

“It is so far having little effect on improving public governance,” added the report.

The study had picked the ministry because it is the government agency dealing with companies interested in investing.

With few natural resources, Morocco is counting on foreign investment to provide jobs and growth. But it ranks 80th out of 178 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Index, which is based in part on perceptions of foreign businesses.

Critics have long complained that the Moroccan economy is concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy families with close ties to the monarchy, using personal influence to win business deals.

For ordinary Moroccans, navigating the bureaucracy often involves trading on family connections and personal favours.

The report cited a low corruption conviction rate and a weak judiciary as being behind the problem as well as no national policy against corruption.