Updated

Plans Moving Ahead for Third US-Morocco Trade & Investment Forum – Jean R. AbiNader

Coca-Cola to Host Event at its Atlanta Headquarters

Coca-Cola bottles in Marrakech. Photo: Frank Douwes on Flickr.

Coca-Cola bottles in Marrakech. Photo: Frank Douwes on Flickr.

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
July 28, 2015

 

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

Although security issues continue to dominate news about the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), the Moroccan Embassy in Washington, DC is also focusing on how to bring greater prosperity and stability to the region through business development. It is busy preparing for its upcoming annual trade and investment forum to be held this year in Atlanta on October 13. Much like the very successful program in Dallas last October, the agenda will bring a strong public-private delegation featuring leading officials and businesses from Morocco.

Coca-Cola’s hosting of the Forum is an indication of its long-standing business relationship with Morocco. The company has its regional headquarters there and has made Morocco a major transshipment hub for distributing its products. First introduced in Morocco 1947, Coke now rivals tea as the favorite beverage of the country.  According to a feature on the Travel Channel, Morocco is the fourth-largest consumer of Coke products in Africa, following South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt – countries with much larger populations. Hawaii, a fruit punch concoction produced by Coke, was pioneered in Morocco and is now sold around the world.

Morocco’s love affair with Coke products was well illustrated in an economic impact study undertaken by Al Akhawayn University, which indicated that more than 70,000 Moroccans are employed in upstream and downstream operations, where the company has a significant impact on multiple sectors of the economy, from small farmers to truckers, retailers, food and beverage services, sports teams, to its wastewater recycling plants in Marrakech and elsewhere.

So it makes good business sense for Coca-Cola to show other companies in the south why business in Morocco is a win-win proposition. According to a draft program of the Forum, three key areas will be highlighted: Agriculture and Food Investment Opportunities, Banking and Financial Services, and Manufacturing. In addition, there will be sessions devoted to Morocco’s rapidly growing renewable energy sector and its leadership in water management technologies.

A number of state and local public officials will be on hand to tout the bilateral relationship with Morocco and encourage Moroccan companies to source more products made in Georgia and the surrounding states. From the Moroccan side, you can expect high level participation from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Investment, and the Digital Economy, Casablanca Finance City, AMDI (Morocco Investment Development Agency), agencies dealing with renewable and hydrocarbon energy projects, and US companies doing business in Morocco.

In the agricultural sector, Morocco is introducing new technologies and crops to reduce fluctuations caused by variable rainfall. Through its Maroc Plan Vert (Green Plan), the government is providing support to small and large farming enterprises to improve their productivity and timely access to markets. As a result of its well-developed transportation and distribution infrastructure, Morocco has already established itself as the regional hub for doing business in West and Central Africa, including the Casablanca Finance City (CFC), where a diverse group of financial services companies are based to address the region’s needs.

Aeronautic and automotive manufacturing are the success stories in Morocco that continue to blossom. Automotive now is the leading manufacturing sector in the country, with more than 300 companies in the supply chain – a valuable market for regional businesses in Atlanta. Similarly, the aeronautics manufacturing sector, with its more than 100 suppliers based in an around Tangier and Casablanca, is an attractive destination for its counterparts in the southern US.

Of course, networking is the primary purpose for the forum, getting into the details of how to do business. Time has been set aside for individual meetings between companies and with government leaders as well as a novel format that provides for face-to-face meetings with the US and Morocco Ambassadors together to address company requests.

We will continue to update the program as details become available.

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