Middle-income Countries: Barometers of State of Sustainable Development Worldwide – FM –

Middle-income countries are the true barometer of the state of sustainable development in the world, said, on Tuesday in Rabat, Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, Nasser Bourita. Speaking at the opening of the High-Level Ministerial Conference on Middle-Income Countries, which is being held under the theme: “Solutions to address development challenges of Middle-Income Countries in a changing world”, the Minister added that these countries are the “middle class of international society”, the ones that drive the economy and benchmark the level of development. In this regard, he highlighted their place and weight in the global economy, their assets and demographic dynamism, as well as their diversity and geographical and cultural representativeness, noting that they are also a systemic lever for regional and international peace and stability. “It’s in the Middle-Income Countries that we see some of the finest economic and societal success stories, and some of the most inspiring experiments in progress and reform, carried out in the face of adversity”, he underlined, noting that these countries are a source of inspiration and motivation for the nations of the world, in this troubled international context. In this respect, the Minister said that healthy economies in Middle-Income Countries are beneficial for the global economic order, and indeed for the world order itself. He also pointed out that these countries face similar challenges, notably ongoing stagflation, a growing debt burden, and increasingly difficult access to international financing, hampering progress towards sustainable development goals. Bourita stressed that the gaps in development cooperation have widened, at a time when Middle Income Countries need special attention more than ever, noting that sustained cooperation is needed to strengthen investment in sustainable development and preserve the development momentum they have been able to build. He also emphasized that this conference is intended to be a formidable lever for international action, first and foremost economic, for the benefit of all its members, individually and collectively, calling for an awareness of the importance of these countries, and an appreciation of the challenges they face. According to him, Middle-Income Countries should have the ambition to break out of the “middle-income trap”. In this regard, political stability, economic progress and social prosperity are neither a monopoly nor a cartel, he said, pointing out that they are nothing other than the universal capital of the Society of Nations, if it is to be an International Community with no one left behind. Middle-Income Countries should also aim to anchor the idea that this grouping is not a “sub-group”, added the Minister, explaining that it is indeed a grouping in its own right, strong in numbers (108 countries, with 75% of the world’s population), around 30% of world GDP, and strong in geographic, economic, sociological and cultural diversity; with coherent and homogeneous levels of development, where what unites is far more substantial than what differentiates. The Minister also called on Middle-Income Countries to have the ambition to recapitalize around their assets, and to remobilize around their challenges, and above all to be, each in its own region, actors of regional development, and all together, vectors of interregional and international development. He stressed that this high-level meeting is vital, and that it must mark a break with the past, pointing out that it is for this reason, too, that Morocco wished to run for the presidency of the Group of Friends of the Middle-Income Countries, in order to help give new impetus to the group’s action. In this respect, he expressed the conviction that action by Middle-Income Countries should focus on three fundamental priorities: repositioning the Middle-Income Countries group as an operational platform that carries weight in global economic governance, and repositioning international development cooperation. It is also a question of repositioning cooperation and partnership within the group of Middle-Income Countries, through structuring and innovative projects in areas of common interest, he underlined, noting that it is in this respect that Morocco, acting under the enlightened vision of HM King Mohammed VI, has always made economic and technical cooperation with its partners a fundamental priority of its foreign policy. Bourita affirmed that Morocco has developed strategic partnerships, notably with sister African countries, noting that these partnerships have been established according to a global, integrated and inclusive approach, based on solidarity and co-development and in line with regional integration, creating a favorable space for investment and trade. In this context, he recalled that ambitious and structuring cooperation initiatives and projects have been launched under the personal impetus of His Majesty the King, in strategic sectors for development in the fields of agriculture, health, energy, banking and basic infrastructure, citing, among others, the Nigeria-Morocco African-Atlantic Gas Pipeline project, the Royal Initiative to facilitate access to the Atlantic Ocean for the African Sahel States, and large-scale fertilizer production projects in several African countries to contribute to food security in the region.