Washington, DC, October 15, 2015 (MACP) — More than 100 business leaders and government representatives from the US and Morocco convened at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta on Tuesday for the second annual US-Morocco Trade and Investment Forum, where Morocco’s Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Mamoune Bouhdoud made the case for US investment in Africa, and for using Morocco as a platform to do so. Organized by the Moroccan Embassy in Washington, the conference builds on the success of the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement that went into effect in 2006, as well as the US-Morocco Strategic Dialogue launched in 2012.
“Our Kingdom has been developing its economy and its infrastructures… and it is now ready to become a gate for investors who believe in the African potential,” said the Minister in keynote remarks, noting that six out of the ten fastest-growing economies are in Africa, and that the continent’s average annual growth rate has remained steadily above 5% for years. By 2050, he added, “the African economy is to be multiplied by ten.” He emphasized that “Morocco is betting on industrialization,” and “has been taking numerous structural measures and putting in place various sectorial strategies to improve its business environment.”
“This strategy,” he said, “is paying off. In the automotive industry for instance, in 2014, for the first time of its history, Morocco has been exporting more automobiles than its prime natural resource, phosphate; and we are receiving a number of foreign investors’ projects never seen before.”
His Excellency Rachad Bouhlal, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the US, also spoke at Tuesday’s forum, as did other key leaders from Morocco’s private and public sector. From the US side, attendees included the Honorable Dwight L. Bush, US Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco; Mr. Marcus Jadotte, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis; Mr. Chris Carr, Georgia Commissioner of Economic Development; Mr. Gary W. Black, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture; Mr. Curt Fergusson, President of Coca-Cola’s Middle East & North Africa Business Unit; Mr. Ahmet Bozer, EVP and President of Coca-Cola International; and others.
“This is a really important occasion because one of the hallmarks of our bilateral relationship with Morocco is investment,” said Ambassador Bush in media interviews. “The Moroccans have been exemplary partners with us as we pursue these investment opportunities.”
In the past ten years, Morocco has gained traction with investors around the world thanks to its geographic location, growing economy, political stability, and world-class infrastructure. In 2013, Morocco became the second biggest destination for foreign direct investment in Africa, and is itself the second largest African investor on the continent. In 2014, CNN named Casablanca a “finance hub of the future,” and The Wall Street Journal reported that Morocco is among the top ten frontier markets—and the only one in the Maghreb—most favored by foreign corporations, according to its Frontiers/FSG Frontier Markets Sentiment Index. Morocco also consistently gains favorable ratings from Fitch Ratings, the World Bank, and other rankings of good places to do business.
”In every session, I heard first-hand accounts from business leaders confirming what we’ve long known: Morocco’s reforms and economic openness are a strong draw for businesses, making it the perfect gateway to Africa, Europe and the Middle East,” said former U S Ambassador to Morocco Edward M. Gabriel.
Contact: Jordana Merran, 202.470.2049
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