Mrs Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation,
Mr Assistant Secretary of Commerce, en charge of industry and analysis,
Mr President of Economic, social and environmental Council
Mr President of the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce,
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an utmost pleasure to welcome you here today in Morocco. I want to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs and cooperation for hosting this meeting.
I want to thank also the members of the private sector U.S. delegation for your presence here today and for your commitment to help strengthen the business ties between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Morocco.
The United States and Morocco have strong political ties and have, since many years sought, to increase economic cooperation and further trade and investment. A Free trade agreement was signed in 2004 and enforced in January 2006. One year later, the Millennium Challenge Corporation granted 700 million USD to the Kingdom, to support economic development, and last year, Morocco was among the few countries in Africa to be granted a second MCC compact for 450 million USD. Morocco was also chosen to foster Benin MCC compact, and we’ll be honored to help.
The FTA has, indeed, fostered trade between our two countries, which has been rising steadily in the last decade: In 2004, the trade amount was less than 1 billion US DOLLARS. This amount reached 3 billion US dollars in 2015.
It’s worth mentioning however that there is a significant imbalance in our bilateral trade: Moroccan imports are four (4) times higher than US imports.
On the other hand, the total amount of American investments in Morocco, reached 400 million USD, and there are about 150 American companies operating in our country. By comparison, there are a thousand French companies in the kingdom and about 800 Spanish ones.
Ladies and Gentleman,
Last Friday, Renault, a major player in the worldwide automotive industry announced its intention to extend its investments in Morocco. In the few years to come, Renault and its ecosystem of suppliers will invest 1 billion USD to increase the rate on industrial integration for vehicles produced locally to 65%. An undoubtedly clear indication of confidence and a sign of trust in the Moroccan economy.
So what makes a world class player invest such an amount in our country? What makes a company like Yazaki, operate 3 plants in Morocco? What makes companies like Eaton, Delphi, Leoni, EADS, Valeo and others choose Morocco?
The answer can be summed up in three words: stability, modernity and business attractiveness.
I would like to spend some minutes on talking about my country. Morocco is a politically stable and democratic country. It has sound macro-economic fundamentals and has enjoyed sustained growth despite the world economic downturn.
Our domestic market represents 66% of the total consumption, and the economic system relies on many drivers. Morocco has no natural resources, except phosphates. A blessing may be… conversely, we have very productive agriculture, services and industry.
Our national sector plans allow visibility and offer huge investment opportunities ranging from energy and renewable energy industry to the automotive or aerospace sector as well as electronic components. Traditional, yet very profitable industries, are also worth investing in, like modern agriculture, textile, tourism, agri-business, fishing, construction and housing, plastics, pharmaceuticals, etc…
We are a population of 34 million -almost one tenth of USA population- a small market one might think. Yet, Morocco offers more than its local market: it gives access to one billion consumers through 55 free-trade agreements it has signed with European Union, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, UAE, Tunisia and others countries.
Such a competitive advantage is worthless if it’s not matched with superior quality infrastructure. Morocco has highways, allowing goods to cross easily the entire country from north to south. It has 27 commercial and industrial ports ; and one of the most important air connectivity in Africa and the Mena Region. It also has logistics areas that spread from north to south
Another driver of our competitiveness is the regulation system that complies with European and American standards and the financial system, which is the most advanced in Africa. Casablanca Finance City was recently ranked first in Africa.
Last but not least, Morocco is at the crossroads of continents, regions, cultures… looking West, North and east but deeply rooted in Africa.
Since 2010, Moroccan companies invested 2 billion USD in sub-Saharan African countries and there is more to come. Our companies operate in various sectors ranging from infrastructure, electricity, construction, housing, engineering, cement to telecoms, agri-business, services. They are supported by a financial network that our banks and insurance companies built in 26 countries.
Is it then an overstatement to say that we know Africa well? Beyond the fact that we are Africans ourselves, we have built with the rest of the African countries mutual trust and respect. And we all know here how important these are in a business relationship. And that is probably why we have been successful so far in the continent. Africa, ladies and gentlemen, is expected to record an average of 5% growth per year in the coming decade.
It is an opportunity for us, for you, for us together! Morocco offers its geographic location, its business environment, its free-trade agreements, its infrastructure, but also its proven knowledge and expertise of a promising market.
Ladies and gentleman,
Today’s forum will provide you the opportunity to discuss potential business opportunities in automotive and energy. The B to B meetings will allow you hopefully to meet your business partners. This is a good start, but in the audience, there are also business women and men interested in others industries.
My wish is that this forum will highlight Morocco’s potential, and result in concrete new partnerships between our two business communities. I also hope that we can openly and constructively discuss ideas: for scaling-up our partnership ; and on how we can build together an economic future in Africa.
I wish all of you success in your talks ; and pledge my government’s continuous strong support for your efforts.