North Africa’s Largest Car Plant Opens Amid Skepticism, Controversy

French workers lament another factory exit and some Moroccans question whether the government's deal with automaker Renault will trickle down.

Posted: 02/09/2012 04:12 PM EST
Filed Under Global News, Africa, France

Renault opens plant in Morocco

French automaker Renault will open North Africa’s largest car manufacturing plant in Morocco Thursday, inciting jeers from some workers in France and skepticism from others in Morocco who have suspicions about the deal.


The plant promises to put a dent in the country’s unemployment problems, as it already employs nearly 2,000 workers and may provide an estimated 35,000 jobs indirectly as production increases.


However, some in France feel that the company is “selling out” French workers by taking a deal that allows Renault to save a substantial amount in labor costs.


"It is dangerous and intolerable for our country that Renault, in which the state is the largest shareholder, practices social dumping in Morocco to manufacture cars destined for Europe and France,” said former industry minister Christian Estrosi, according to the BBC.


According to French financial magazine Les Echos, the country has lost nearly 900 factories since the economic crisis of 2008, and 100,000 accompanying jobs.


However, although Morocco is sure to get a boost in jobs because of the plant opening, not everyone in Morocco is pleased.


Economist Fouad Abdelmoumi remains skeptical about how much Moroccans will actually benefit from the deal, given that Renault was given critical tax breaks.


"We know that Renault was about to abandon this investment and the Moroccan state gave it huge advantages to convince Renault to continue, including tax incentives," he told the BBC.


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(Photo: Graham Crouch/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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