MATIC (Washington, DC, August 29, 2013) — On September 5, the US Consulate in Casablanca will host a webinar, “Positioning US Firms for Morocco’s Infrastructure Expansion.” The session comes in advance of the 2nd Annual US Morocco Business Development Conference, to be held in Rabat November 4-6. Morocco On The Move caught up with Douglas Wallace, Senior Commercial Officer at the US Consulate in Casablanca, for a preview of the webinar and an inside scoop on opportunities for US firms in Morocco.
MOTM: What is the US Commercial Service and your mission?
Doug Wallace: The US Commercial Service is an agency within the US Department of Commerce and our goal is to help US companies expand exports and business sales abroad. We have about 100 offices throughout the United States in all of the major American cities. Our international network includes about 75 posts abroad where we’re usually in the US Embassies and Consulates.
MOTM: You said you have previously worked in Algeria and elsewhere. What do you think is unique about doing business in Morocco, specifically?
DW: What makes Morocco unique is its geopolitical location. Morocco is eight miles away from Europe and is also very intimately integrated into West Africa, so Morocco is more than just the Moroccan market. It is also [connected to] many parts of the European market and also the West African market due to these ancient, well-established cultural and linguistic linkages which have been working for decades and decades. These are the kind of sales and logistics links that we’re hoping US companies can take more advantage of.
Another aspect is that obviously many, many markets in the region are going through extreme instability right now and they’re closed off. These are some major markets for US companies, like Egypt, and some lesser markets, like Tunisia. Libya is still a huge question mark and Algeria has always been kind of a difficult place to do business. So increasingly, Morocco is the only truly stable market in the region, and offers predictability, transparency, security… And the US has a Free Trade Agreement with Morocco which tends to add a little more predictability and transparency, as well.
“Increasingly, Morocco is the only truly stable market in the region, and offers predictability, transparency, security… and the US has a Free Trade Agreement with Morocco.”
MOTM: What can US business owners and representatives expect from the webinar?
DW: The webinar on September 5th is going to discuss infrastructure development in Morocco and aspects of Morocco’s infrastructure plan in which US companies could play a role. It will be opened by our Chargé d’Affaires Matt Lussenhop, and Matt will turn it over to me. Then the real fascinating speakers will be Thanae Bennani who is Senior Commercial Specialist at the US Consulate here and Marwan Metlej who is the Business Development and Administration Manager for Hill International—a US construction and project management firm. He’s going to talk about some real life guidance from a business person actually doing infrastructure work here in Morocco.
MOTM: The focus of the webinar is infrastructure work. What US sectors in particular do you think stand to really benefit?
DW: There are four general areas where we think US companies specifically can benefit from Morocco’s infrastructure ambitions.
One, generally speaking, is power. Morocco has successfully electrified almost its entire country now through a successful program targeting rural areas and employing the use of photovoltaic solutions, and it now has an ambitious plan to further develop its renewable energy. We already have a few US companies operating in the renewable sector here and we feel like it’s a growing trend US companies should consider.
Number two, we could call this “water technologies.” Morocco wants to develop its industrial base further, and this is largely an agricultural economy, and so developing the quality of its water infrastructure will help to improve its agribusiness and increase productivity.
Then another area for US companies would fall under what we generally call logistics technologies, and what we mean by that would be high-tech solutions to enhance ports, airports, highways, cold storage, supply chain management, and warehousing. Specifically the types of solutions we would envision US companies would be things like vessel traffic management solutions, safety and security solutions at airports, and also air traffic control solutions. In terms of highway it could be high-tech toll-collection solutions.
And the last area we wanted to touch on was US company solutions for enhancing Morocco’s tourism infrastructure. This would come in a few areas: one would be actual engineering and design of new resorts in Morocco, which would utilize America’s architecture expertise, also in hotel and hotel management solutions. Morocco is also become a growing medical tourism venue for Europeans and so this is another area of opportunities for US companies.
To register for the webinar, which will be held at 11 AM EST on September 5, e-mail DirectLineEmbassyRabat@state.gov.