Tangiers (Morocco) (AFP) - Morocco signed an agreement with Boeing on Tuesday to build a new hub for the US aerospace giant that officials hope will create thousands of skilled jobs.
King Mohammed VI oversaw the signing of a memorandum of understanding in the northern port city of Tangiers to establish an industrial zone where up to 120 Boeing suppliers and sub-contractors could operate.
"This is a very important strategic project as we move into a new aeronautical era in Morocco," Industry Minister Moulay Hafi Elalamy told AFP.
Morocco has unveiled several large-scale industrial projects in recent years, with the Tangiers region among the fastest growing.
French carmaker Renault in April signed deals to invest more than $1 billion (900 million euros) and create 50,000 jobs in the North African country.
Morocco was badly affected by the financial crisis in Europe, its top trade partner, and has struggled to contain a ballooning public deficit.
The authorities have strenuously promoted the country as a bridge between Africa and the West, in a bid to encourage foreign investment and trade.
"The Moroccan aeronautical industry has seen important growth in recent years," said Elalamy. "The sector has grown six-fold in just 10 years and there are now 121 firms."
Some of the largest manufacturers are already present in the country, contributing to a sector that employs about 10,000 people and has a turnover of $1 billion per year.
Elalamy said the Boeing industrial zone could create up to 8,700 jobs.
Morocco's gateway linking Europe, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Tangiers has experienced unprecedented development in recent years, including a new airport and deep-water port.