February 7, 2014
On Tuesday, February 11, the US Consulate in Casablanca will host a webinar, “Discover North Africa.” The session comes in advance of the 2nd Annual US Morocco Business Development Conference, to be held in Rabat March 10 and 11. 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: We have talked a few times before about your work connecting US businesses to Morocco. What new developments have you seen since we last spoke, if any?
Douglas Wallace: Lots of businesses are coming through our door, planning on setting up shop in Morocco for the region. To have individual companies come and tell us that’s their specific plan has been really exciting.
American companies are picking up on the fact that the Arab Spring is creating such an environment in the region that is making Morocco very unique just in terms of political stability. Before the Arab Spring we had other markets that could also compete with Morocco in terms of being the gateway to Africa and the gateway to Europe but in many ways now those markets are closed. Morocco is the last market standing, and the economic situation there is really quite strong.
MOTM: That’s certainly great news for Morocco. Are there any companies that may have even relocated to Morocco from elsewhere in the region?
DW: One thing that we are seeing is US companies that were covering North Africa from Dubai are realizing that that’s not a really direct or effective way to manage their regional operations. And so US companies that were in Dubai are now setting up in Morocco, to really gain closer to the North Africa region.
“Morocco is the last market standing.”
— Douglas Wallace, Senior Commercial Officer, US Consulate in Casablanca.
MOTM: Tell us about the March business conference and your pre-conference webinar.
DW: There are two really huge events taking place in North Africa in the next few months. One of them is the second US-Morocco Business Development Conference on March 10th and 11th and the other one is the Algiers International Trade Fair.
The business development conference is an expression of the US-Morocco Strategic Dialogue — government to government discussions about how both sides, the United States and Morocco, can improve our policies and procedures to enhance our bilateral trade.
We are hosting a webinar on February 11th to highlight both.
The Consulate General to Casablanca, Brian Shukan, is going to be leading off the Morocco portion of the webinar and turn it over to the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to review the agenda. The second day of the conference, US companies can either go up to Tangiers to tour exports and manufacturing facilities available to them, or come down to Casablanca, the commercial hub of Morocco, to participate in a series of business briefings, networking events and site visits.
MOTM: Interesting—why the two different options?
DW: Some companies, based on their business model, might be interested in coming to Morocco to set up a manufacturing type of facility. In that case they might be more interested in Tangiers because that’s the strength of Tangiers. For other companies who have a product manufactured in America who want to network to find a distributor or a strategic partner to distribute and sell that product throughout Morocco, Casablanca would probably be the better choice.