Business Brief: Morocco Improves its Business Environment as Advances Continue – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
November 2, 2016

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

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

As the new government in being formed in Morocco, there is good economic news from a number of sectors, illustrating once again that even when its GDP growth is slowed due to a poor harvest, the country continues to make advances in many areas for both domestic and international companies.

Inching Up in the Rankings.  According to the latest World Bank report “Doing Business 2017,” Morocco is improving its business environment in a number of areas. Now ranked first in North Africa and third in all of Africa, Morocco has gone from 97th in 2012 to 68th in the latest list. This directly reflects the improvements that have resulted from legislation passed by the previous government, which has again vowed to accelerate Morocco’s growth by eliminating obstacles to businesses and promoting greater commercial transactions.

Among the areas most improved in the recent report are protecting minority investors, access to credit, registering property, and trading across borders.

Train Competition Helps Morocco Grow. Last week we reported on Bombardier’s suppliers conference in Morocco, when it announced that it was investing $1 billion in facilities to service its regional clients from its center in Casablanca. The latest rail-related news, according to Medias 24, is that sometimes partner and sometimes competitor Alstom (France) held the first ever Rail Industry Summit, co-hosted with the Moroccan Association of Railway Industries, to encourage its suppliers to locate their facilities in Morocco.

This competition has paid off for both companies as Bombardier has snagged two contracts: to renew 14 electric trains on the Casablanca-Rabat line and to provide equipment for the Kenitra-Casablanca and Sidi Yahya-Tangier routes. Alstom, taking advantage of its preferred supplier relationship for the new high-speed track from Tangier to Casablanca, will provide 12 trains for that line and dozens of other locomotives, as well as construction and management of the Citadis tram services in Rabat and Casablanca.

BMCE Garners CSR Award for Africa. BMCE Bank of Africa received the Arabia Corporate Social Responsibility for the third year in a row at the 9th annual Arabia CSR Forum in Dubai. BMCE won in a  tough competition with more than 100 nominees across 25 industries from 13 countries in the MENA region. The award recognizes both CSR and sustainability criteria consistent with international guidelines such as the Global Compact, Global Reporting Initiative, and the EFQM Excellence Model.

The Forum is organized with the UN Environmental Program under the 2016 theme “Accelerating Arab sustainable development agenda through innovation and collaboration,” the group said in a statement.

Sweet Results for Moroccan Dates. Despite the poor rainfall that reduced harvests through the recent growing season, Moroccan dates not only flourished, they exceeded previous records. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the harvest increased 16% over 2015, to a record 128,000 tons. The date sector affects the agricultural income of more than 2 million people, creating 1.6 million workdays a year for workers in the most fragile regions in Morocco. The sector was a target of the first Millennium Challenge Compact with Morocco 2007-2013, which included planting and improvements to olive, almond, and date palms. The record production came from 140,000 acres of date palms, which shows a much higher rate of efficiency, some 40% greater than was achieved in 2009.

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