Morocco’s Business Express Moving in the Right Direction – Jean R. AbiNader
Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
September 30, 2016
When companies gather in Seattle, Washington at the Boeing-hosted US-Morocco Business Forum on October 3, they will find out more about three key benefits of doing business in the kingdom: its geographic location, close ties to the US, and well-qualified business partners. According to Walter Siouffi, Chairman of the Am-Cham in Morocco, headquartered in Casablanca, Morocco is not only a gateway to Europe and Africa because of its location, but it is working very hard to become the hub for regional business by adopting business-friendly reforms and building a world-class infrastructure that makes it the first choice of companies from around the world.
Unlike its neighbors who are struggling to reform their economies and attract investors, Morocco not only attracts the highest amounts of Foreign Direct Investment in North Africa, it is also the second largest investor in Africa – demonstrating its commitment to economic development on the continent.
The infrastructure in Morocco, from access to Europe and connections to more than 35 African destinations, continues to expand, making it possible to reach 100s of millions of consumers and the companies that serve them in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. From its growing road network to the high speed train starting next year from Tangier to Casablanca, to its thriving and always improving ports on the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, Morocco makes doing regional business across more than 30 countries accessible and realistic.
The government is committed to supporting investors through incentives defined in key growth plans in agriculture, fishing, tourism, renewable energies such as solar, wind, hydropower, and a robust ITC sector, among others. For the past ten years, it has focused on building broad-scale industrial manufacturing in the automotive and aeronautics sectors, which has been quite success and continues to grow. The Forum in Seattle will feature how partnerships between Boeing and Morocco has been successful in creating a fulsome environment for supply chain companies that now provide support for numerous industries in Morocco and abroad.
Among the global companies making Morocco their home for regional markets are Renault-Nissan, Bombardier, Peugeot, Etisalat, Danone, Mondelez, AMP, Hexcel, Delphi, and Eaton, and Linamar.
And economic indicators continue to perform positively with decreasing unemployment, a growing financial services sector, structurally low inflation, stable investment grade ratings, and supportive agreements with the IMF and World Bank. On the domestic front, Morocco is steadily reducing its fiscal and current account deficit, improving its foreign currency reserves, and working with the EU on an upgrade of its association agreement to a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The Morocco-US FTA, which came into force in 2006, has been of great benefit to US companies. US exports, to date, have increased from $480 million to $2 billion. More than 130 US companies have offices in Morocco, and the Casablanca Finance City, built to accommodate services firms and wanting to do business in Africa, has already attracted more than 70 international corporations.
So, although the focus of the Seattle Forum is on aerospace and services, there will be Morocco companies from a number of sectors seeking US expertise and products – from technology and manufacturing, agro-tech and renewable energies, to consumer products and environmental services. Moroccan firms are acquiring a broader capability in addressing international markets thanks to the many partnerships that have existed with US companies for quite some time. There are many opportunities to discover in Morocco, especially the businesses that can help Americans navigate the many challenges of doing business in the region.