Morocco: Ministers Summoned Over Failed Vaccine Agreement With China

Moroccan ministers summoned by Parliament over two COVID-19 related agreements between China and Morocco which have seen limited progress.

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Rabat – The Moroccan Parliament has called upon the ministers of health, industry and trade, and foreign affairs, to question them on why China has not followed through with commitments made to Morocco last year.

Morocco and China signed several COVID-19-related agreements in August, 2020. One was for Morocco’s participation in the Chinese-developed Sinopharm vaccine’s clinical trials. The other agreements were concerning opening a vaccine manufacturing unit in Morocco, and the willingness to transcend “our two countries alone, to open up to the south and the north,” said Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s minister of foreign affairs.

On the occasion, the Moroccan Minister of Health Khalid Ait Taleb said that Morocco will probably be able “to produce a vaccine as part of the exchange of expertise between Rabat and Beijing” very soon.

Still, six months later, there have been no signs or talks of a Chinese vaccine production unit in Morocco. As such, the Parliament has now summoned Nasser Bourita, Khalid Ait Taleb, and Hafid Elalamy, the minister of industry and trade, to explain why China has seemingly backed out of its commitments.

Read also: What You Need to Know about China’s Sinopharm Vaccine

The Arabic daily Assabah reports that the construction of the vaccine manufacturing unit was due to start in March, in Tangier.

Furthermore, the Assabah reports that the three ministers will also be questioned on why, despite the agreement for the acquisition of 45 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine, Morocco has been receiving only small shipments of the promised vaccine.

To date, the North African country has received 1.5 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.

Despite the joint-clinical trials between the two countries, Morocco is in fact receiving the same treatment as other countries that did contribute to the joint clinical trials. On this note, the President of the House of Representatives has summoned the ministers who participated in the signing of the agreements: one securing the supply of vaccines, and the other on the construction of a vaccine manufacturing center to supply Africa.

The date of the hearing has not been announced yet.