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Business Brief: Morocco Expands Global Trade Networks; Aims to be in Top 50 Countries for Doing Business; Will Host Global Conference on Women in Agriculture; and Launches Effort to Attract Overseas Moroccan Business Leaders – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
July 24, 2017

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

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

While summer may bring its fair amount of heat to Morocco, it has not slowed the country’s economic and business activities. Delegations from Argentina and visits to Brazil and Ireland, and a new outreach effort to enlist Moroccans abroad in entrepreneurial initiatives are among the most recent announcements coming out of the Kingdom.

Government sets goal to bring Morocco into the top 50 for Doing Business. Last week, at the 9th meeting of Morocco’s National Committee on the Business Environment (CNEA), head of government Saad Eddine Othmani made a pledge to continue efforts to  improve Morocco’s business climate to attract investors and encourage business expansion. For example, ranking in the World Bank’s  annual Ease of Doing Business reports, Morocco’s rank has risen steadily, from128 out of 183 countries in 2010 to 68 out of 190 countries this year. And the CNEA goal is to be in the top 50 by 2021.

Among the initiatives announced are efforts to improve dialogue between the public and private sectors, streamlining administrative procedures, greater use of digital technology to enhance business development, and continuing reform of business laws and regulations.

Attending the CNEA meeting were Miriem Behsaleh Chaqroun, president of the General Confederation of Moroccan Business (CGEM), and other notables from the public and private sectors who share CNEA’s goals and support 22 upcoming projects to enhance the role and voice of the business community.

These include, according to a Morocco World News report, “the development of legal and regulatory framework of business, the development of mechanisms to listen to the private sector and maintaining the image of Morocco in international reports from the perspective of developing a strategy to improve the business climate, the simplification of administrative procedures and the creation of single points of contact, and the development of mechanisms and the methodology of the CNEA’s functioning.”

Underlying these projects will be “a survey to determine obstacles facing the private sector, creating a digital platform to receive comments (both grievances and suggestions) from entrepreneurs, and determining a…2018-21 plan of action to integrate Morocco into the Doing Business reports’ top 50 nations.”

Business development efforts continue apace. Among key developments these past weeks were high level interactions with leaders from Brazil, Argentina, and Ireland. As reported in several sources, Morocco is committed to expanding its presence on both sides of the Atlantic, most recently hosting Argentinean Vice-President Marta Gabriela Michetti for wide-ranging discussions related to bilateral business ties and opening new markets for Argentinean investments in Morocco as a business platform for Africa.

In Brazil, a bilateral business conference was held in Sao Paulo to explore current relations and prospects for increased Brazilian trade in Africa using Morocco as an intermediary. The seminar, “Assessing and Redefining Policies towards Africa in a New Global Scenario: Intersecting Perspectives between Brazil and Morocco,” emphasized the many opportunities in bilateral trade and investment. While the bulk of the current trade centers around sugar from Brazil and fertilizers from Morocco, participants noted expanding opportunities for both countries. One of the more intriguing ideas was a Mercosur-Morocco trade agreement to facilitate Brazilian access to both Africa and the Middle East.

One of the immediate consequences of the growing business between Morocco and Brazil is that Royal Air Maroc announced that it would expand its flights to Sao Paulo from four times a week to daily flights from Casablanca. This will serve increased business ties, as well as growing tourism options for both countries.

In Ireland, a delegation from Morocco engaged in wide-ranging talks that included opportunities in dairy, agriculture, food processing, and agri-technology that would enhance bilateral commercial relations. The visit was a follow-up to an Irish visit to Morocco last year. Local reports noted that there has been “phenomenal” growth in bilateral trade, which has doubled in the last five years, with only more opportunities ahead.

Another Sea Link to Africa. Following on the success of the Wazzan I maritime transportation link from Tangier and Casablanca to Africa, Morocco recently launched Wazzan II, to enable Moroccan exporters to connect both by sea to West African countries on the coast including Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, and Liberia, and by overland links to Mali and Burkina Faso. It will be a weekly service from Casablanca to support the Kingdom’s 12% growth in annual exports to the continent.

And Concerning Women in Africa. The international NGO Believe in Africa (BIA) announced that it will hold its second conference in Marrakech in September. Morocco was chosen for this year’s “Women and Agriculture” conference, in large part in response to the leadership role of King Mohammed VI in promoting the role of women in development. More than 500 delegates are expected from across Africa to discuss politics and business with regional and international experts in financing, technology and innovation, climate change, and access to markets. The voices of members of non-governmental organizations and institutions will also be included, According to the event press release, “By bringing people together, BIA 2017 will be the place where the pivotal role African women play, and contribute, in agriculture and sustainable development will be discussed and honored.”

Mrs. Angelle KWEMO, president of the association and of the conference said that “Morocco is one of the most economically dynamic African countries. Geographically and strategically located, Morocco is a bridge to Europe and the U.S. for Africa and a leader for South-South trade. It is certain that during this Conference we will learn a lot from the Moroccan experience in developing and expanding its agriculture sector.”

Outreach project to attract overseas Moroccans. In February, CGEM and the Moroccan Ministry of Moroccans Abroad signed an agreement to create a special public-private partnership to attract overseas Moroccans to invest in their home country. As a result of that agreement, the Moroccan Business Bridge symposium opened today in Rabat, with around 300 Moroccan business leaders from around the world who will share their experiences and hopefully create opportunities for business development.

According to the event press release, the program will initiate a digital network “for professional exchange between Morocco’s world entrepreneurs and those based in Morocco. It aims also to encourage Moroccan investors living abroad to invest in the Moroccan market and to contribute to the development of the Kingdom by enhancing its image abroad.”

In a survey taken earlier this year, it was found that more than 50% of Moroccan entrepreneurs living abroad would invest in Morocco given the opportunity. It is estimated that there are more than 300,000 Moroccan business owners in the overseas community of more than 5 million.

 

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