The obstacles to the New Development Model

His Majesty King Mohammed VI called for the establishment of a New Development Model (NDM) that is in line with the real capabilities of the Kingdom and can benefit the entire Moroccan people. In the same vein, we understand that the signing ceremony – of the structuring project for the manufacture of Covid-19 and other vaccines in Morocco – which King Mohammed VI chaired on July 5 at the royal palace in Fez, participates in same will of our King to raise Morocco’s position to the rank of leader in, among others, the agri-food fields, which we will discuss below, and pharmaceuticals on which we will seize the opportunity to come back to it at another time.

The commission responsible for developing the NDM project, which has completed its work and handed over its informed study to the sovereign, is now addressing, at the King’s request, the components of the nation’s vital forces across the country to explain to them the important lines of this major new project and, at the same time, note their opinions and comments which will be taken into consideration in the subsequent definition of the human, material and regulatory conditions for the implementation of the NDM. The national press, in turn, widely spoke about the subject of the NDM and the commission, known as the “Benmoussa commission“, which leads this project.

For this blog, we are particularly interested in the improvement that the NDM could bring to the activity of the agri-food sector to take our services to a higher level and thus serve as an example to other countries in our region. In this context, we must admit that the system currently in force – and the prescriptions which underpin it for different areas of the economic activity of our country – must have been considered obsolete, or that they have reached their limits for Morocco to decide replacing them. The NDM must therefore, for what interests this article, allow national operators of the agri-food sector to produce and market articles with “Quality / Price” ratios as efficient as possible to support our competitive objectives on international markets; where the competition is fiercer day by day. However, the quality of food products, which we are talking about, is measured with codified regulatory methods, which appear in Law 28-07 and for which the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) represents the framework of choice. Under these conditions, the announcement of the imminent change in the current development model allows us to conclude that, alongside other identified regulatory shortcomings, the law in force which regulates the quality of food products must, in turn, have been considered as requiring a “facelift”. However, the food safety law 28-07 in question, based on HACCP and promulgated just ten years ago, does not appear to have aged to this point. Its careful reading, and that of the texts adopted for its application, show that the regulations they contain are fully in line with, in particular, consumer protection as provided for by the Codex Alimentarius and other reference regulations.

Yet, on closer inspection one realizes, although Law 28-07 is clear in its wording and spirit, that the officials of ONSSA (National Office for Sanitary Safety of Food Products), which is exclusively responsible for implementing this regulation, apply it in a way discretionary and largely distorted. For example, the law provides that companies recall, or withdraw, their products recognized as non-compliant. I have no recollection, as a regular observer of what is happening in the food sector, of a meritorious actions of ONSSA on this subject. This fact absolutely does not allow us to extrapolate that everything manufactured in our Agrifood Sector Units would be perfect. This would offend scientific common sense, and furthermore, such a claim would run counter to objective observations in the many countries concerned with sound law enforcement.

That being said, the relevance of the law, notwithstanding the quality of the regulatory texts which compose it, depends on the way in which it is put into practice by those in charge of it. With regard to the application of Law 28-07 and the texts taken for its execution, the ONSSA, an organization closely subordinate to the Ministry of Agriculture, leaves, our records being authentic, an impression of deep lethargy. It is as if the officers of this body are there just to deal with the day-to-day business. One example, among many others, is although the law requires these inspectors to put in writing any deviations and other breaches of the law that they may observe in the companies and establishments visited during their inspections – to date and co-sign the observations made with the hierarchy of the inspected company – these employees do nothing. In common parlance this is called “Resisting law enforcement” which normally leads to disciplinary action or referral to court.

As can be assumed, these officials would not disregard the law they oversee if they knew they would be held accountable for the way they are acting.

The Europeans, with whom we have an association agreement, apply their regulations better. This allows them to trade in food and other commodities with countries all over the world. But this is not the case for Morocco, where more than ¾ of our exports enter the EU market through a very small number of countries. Morocco being a sovereign country, why then our foreign trade is so dependent on a tiny fraction of the world population; where some of them tell whoever wants to hear them that they can very well do without importing our foodstuffs.

Although this anomaly (excessive subordination to a particular market) of our foreign trade does not seem to have an intelligible explanation in the explicit agreements that bind us to the EU, there must be a reason for our bondage to a single market. The answer would therefore to be found elsewhere than in the formal texts which regulate our exchanges with Europe. However, in this case, what is not duly recorded often lends itself to hidden arrangements. In this regard, one can conjecture that a propaganda that continues over decades – which praises the alleged superiority (to be demonstrated) of EU standards, combined with targeted protocols for the accreditation of official Moroccan bodies managed by officials who fully agree to EU proselytism, all complemented by incentives for targeted individuals for training on EU standards in Europe, “generously offered” and / or the delivery of foreign decorations and / or travel visa facilitation and others – would have finished shaping the minds of some of our high officials  and obtained their full adherence to EU paradigm.

The icing on the cake (for these people), this attitude of blind submission, so to speak, of some of our officials to the EU theses combines well with the windfall economy that EU wants to perpetuate in our country, via this category of individuals, to maintain  the exploitation of our wealth by European potentates.

Now, if it is a self-evident truth to say that it is the EU countries that benefit greatly from the trade agreement with Morocco; It is equally obvious that a change, albeit a legitimate one, in Morocco’s course, which would orient our trade differently from what it is today, will undoubtedly provoke an outcry at the level of EU decision-makers and of their Moroccan representatives. The resistances mentioned above will certainly multiply in the agri-food sector and elsewhere.

In this regard, the Der Spiegel relates, in its last issue of the 21st current, in an article devoted to the Covid-19 pandemic that: “Germany is often good in management and bad in creation“. This is in line with what we indicated in a previous article (see here ). In this regard, Morocco can rightly claim to have designed, prepared and conducted a vaccination campaign, and also managing its side effects, in a masterly way that continues to inspire other countries in the world.

Also, some of our officials from the Ministry of Health would do well to reflect on the fact that it is not because a pharmacopoeia, or another reference document, is written in French that it is automatically better than another written in English or in Chinese or other (see here).

Taking into account the above reasoning, and to better guarantee the success of the NDM, it seems that Morocco must take as soon as possible into account, in particular, the legitimate concerns of certain exporters to whom the implementation of the NMD can make them lose opportunities in traditional markets and provide assistance and support for them to access existing alternative markets. At the same time, it is necessary, in our opinion, to reflect on the problematic posed by those among our decision-makers in the upper sphere of the public service, and perhaps elsewhere, who show a greater inclination to the causes of foreign countries than to those of their own country. Our suggestion would be, at a minimum, to reorient the careers of these people to prevent the possibility that they could represent an additional obstacle to the implementation of the NDM to which His Majesty King Mohammed VI called and which our country badly needs.