Morocco, EU begin talks on free-trade accord


Morocco and the European Union began discussions on Friday aimed at concluding a free-trade agreement, as EU Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso visited the country.

Such a deal “will give each better access to the other’s markets and improve the business climate in a way that will make it more predictable and stable,” Barroso said after talks with Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane.

“Today, we begin negotiations on a deal to ease the procedures for obtaining visas for certain categories of persons, particularly students, researchers and businessmen and women,” he said.

Barroso, who was later to meet King Mohammed VI, also said Morocco will have received 660 million euros in economic, social and institutional development aid in the three years ending this year.


World Affairs Council highlights ‘good health’ of Moroccan economy


CEO of the World Affairs Council of Dallas Jim Falk highlighted, on Wednesday, the good health of the Moroccan economy within the framework of the proactive, forward-looking royal vision.

World Affairs Council of Dallas highlights ‘good health’ of Moroccan economy under King Mohammed VI’s leadership

In the Arab region which fell prey to instability, Morocco was able to persevere, under the far-sighted leadership of King Mohammed VI, on the path of fostering the bases of its economy which posted good results in the different sectors, Falk told MAP.

The head of the non-profit organization recalled the National Plan for Industrial Emergence (PNEI) in addition to the sectors of car industry, technology and offshoring.

This long-term, integrated strategic vision draws international investors who are looking for stable zones with regulated growth under the rule of law, he added.

The mission of the nonpartisan World Affairs Council of Dallas is to promote international awareness, understanding and connections through its multifaceted programs.


World Investment Conference North Africa 2013


The 1st edition of the World Investment Conference North Africa, organized in collaboration with the Moroccan Investment Development Agency (MIDA), will be held from March 20 to 22 in the city of Marrakech.

This international event will bring together business leaders, national and international investors, and personalities from the economic and political world to share and discuss investment opportunities in North Africa and the Middle East. Being in full socio-economic and political transition, the region is attracting an increasing number of investors because of its potential and development prospects. This event will also be an opportunity for Morocco to position itself as a promotion platform for the whole North African region.

WIC, growing influence The purpose of the World Investment Conferences is to promote and facilitate foreign direct investment in the regions and countries with the best opportunities. Since its inception in 2003, WIC has a growing influence around the world. They are now emerging platforms where future international investment policies are designed. These have a decisive impact on the overall economic growth, as well as on the global political landscape.

Morocco is chosen to host the 1st WIC North Africa Considered by investors as one of the most attractive destinations in Africa, it is not by chance that Morocco has been chosen to host the 1st edition of WIC North Africa. The Kingdom has indeed undertaken significant reforms to encourage foreign investment (modernization of financial markets, upgrading of infrastructure, and other reforms). The country also has significant advantages to become a regional business hub, namely its strategic geographical location and its free trade agreements with Europe and the Middle East.

A very rich program The central theme of WIC North Africa will be “The attractiveness of North Africa in terms of foreign direct investments (FDI’s)”. The meeting will be in the form of a forum where prestigious speakers will present the latest investment opportunities in each key area. Several sectorial and / or geographical studies willl be presented exclusively. During the event that will receive international media coverage, major projects or initiatives in the region will be announced. On the other hand, workshops are to discuss more specific topics such as the automotive industry, aeronautics, energy and environment, as well as services and new technologies, skills development and entrepreneurship. WIC North Africa is also an interactive space where potential partners can meet and share their experience.

About the World Investment Conferences The World Investment Conferences were established in 2003 to promote and facilitate foreign direct investment in regions and countries with the best opportunities. They are now recognized worldwide as being the platforms where the future international investment policies are designed. These have a decisive impact on overall economic growth, as well as on the global political landscape.

About Moroccan Investment Development Agency(MIDA) The Moroccan Investment Development Agency(MIDA) is a public entity endowed with financial autonomy. MIDA is in charge at the national level of the development and promotion of investment in Morocco. Its mission is to offer foreign investors a place for information and guidance. MIDA also aims at coordinating promotional activities in Morocco and abroad.


Morocco, Kuwait sign framework agreement to manage $1.25 bn Kuwaiti grant


A framework agreement to manage a 1.25 billion dollar-grant by Kuwait was signed, Thursday in Rabat, by Economy Minister Nizar Baraka and managing director of the Kuwaiti Fund For Arab Economic Development Abdelwahab Ahmad Al Badr.

Speaking on this occasion, Baraka said this donation is part of the strategic partnership between Morocco and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which has set the objective of promoting Morocco’s development.

The money will be used to finance a number of strategic development programs, particularly in relation with education, health, housing, agriculture, dams and ports, Baraka said.

Ahmad Al Badr said that the management of this grant will span five years as of 2012, in coordination with the Moroccan side, noting that, up to date, 37 agreements between Morocco and the Kuwaiti Fund were implemented for an amount of 1.3 billion dollars.

The signing ceremony was attended by members of the government and Kuwait’s ambassador to Morocco.

World Bank Supports Good Governance and Environmental Practices for Solid Waste Management in Morocco


A $130 million loan will support the reform of the solid waste sector so that Moroccans gain more equal access to collection and disposal services in urban areas and create up to 70,000 jobs in waste recycling activities. The Third Municipal Solid Waste Sector Development Policy Loan, approved by the World Bank Board of Directors today, will also improve accountability through regular monitoring and ensure that waste management is environmentally safe.

For the first time in Morocco, citizen report cards will be introduced allowing people to provide direct feedback on quality and coverage of solid waste services in their cities. The program will also increase transparency by giving citizens access to policy information and disclosure of contracts with private companies.

“Morocco is engaging in a promising and ambitious agenda to bring about practices aimed at preserving the environment and promoting sustainable development,” said Simon Gray, World Bank Director for the Maghreb Department. “The World Bank is mobilizing its expertise and financial support to help Morocco manage this important municipal challenge and ensure that citizens can speak-up and provide their feedback on policy and quality of services provided.”

The growing rate of waste generation in Morocco is putting significant pressure on environment and natural resources. This underlines the need to develop disposal practices that are safe and inspected regularly in line with environmental norms and standards. The reform of the sector is key to helping Morocco achieve its objectives of having 20 percent of its waste recycled and ensure that all municipal solid waste is collected and disposed of in sanitary landfills by 2022.

“This program is the third of its kind since 2009 and will contribute to the sustainable transformation of solid waste sector by providing reliable services in a transparent way,” said Jaafar Sadok Friaa, World Bank Lead Urban Specialist and the project’s team leader. “This timely support will help create up to 70,000 jobs over the next decade, particularly through the development of waste recycling activities.”

The completion of the first phase of the National plan was supported by the first two World Bank Development Policy Loans for the management of solid waste in 2009 and 2010. The two programs helped put in place the basic legal framework governing the sector, supported public-private partnerships, and improved the effectiveness of the Environmental Impact Assessment system. They also contributed to an increased rate of professional solid waste collection, up from 44 percent in 2008 to 76 percent currently, and helped bring landfill control up to standard while rehabilitating open dumpsites.

“Morocco ambitions solar energy output of 2,000 Megawatts by 2020:” official


“Morocco ambitions to reach a production of 2,000 Megawatts of solar energy by 2020,” said the chairman of the Moroccan solar energy agency (MASEN), Mustapha Bakkoury.

Under an ambitious plan adopted in this regard, Morocco wants to reduce its energy dependence and stimulate national and foreign investments in solar and wind energies, said Bakkoury in Marrakesh during a conference held by the private university of Marrakech on “renewable energies and their impact on regional development”.

He explained that the strategic plan for the development and use of solar energy is induced by Morocco’s enormous potentials in the sector, the socio-economic dynamism in the kingdom, the increasing energy needs and the hike in conventional energy prices, particularly oil.

Bakkoury added that promoting solar energy will help meet Morocco’s electricity needs, insisting that this “integrated project” will produce annually 4,500 gigawatts of electricity per hour, covering 18 pc of the present production.

The programs also includes other components linked to training, research and development and upgrading a robust and integrated solar industry, he said before calling for promoting investments in the sector.


IMF gives thumbs up to Morocco’s economic strategy


The International Monetary Fund said on Monday it had completed the first assessment of Morocco’s economic program under a two-year precautionary credit line, indicating the country had met all the performance criteria of its $6.2 billion loan.

Nemat Shafik, the IMF’s deputy managing director, said the Moroccan authorities’ economic strategy was “built appropriately on fiscal consolidation, structural reforms and prudent monetary and financial policies.”

But the IMF urged the government to move forward with reforms of its subsidy and pension systems.

Last month, Morocco’s minister in charge of the issue said the government might start reforming its expensive system of subsidies for food and energy in June, if a political decision was taken to do so.

State subsidies on food and energy shot up to 53 billion dirham ($6.25 billion) in 2012 – 15 percent of total public spending – from 48.8 billion in 2011 and 29.8 billion in 2010.

The government has said it wants to repair its finances by reducing subsidies and shifting spending more toward the poor.

Subsidy reform is politically sensitive in Morocco, where street protests erupted demanding democracy and better economic management in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings across North Africa.


Abu Dhabi’s TAQA seals $1.4 bln financing for Morocco plant


Abu Dhabi National Energy Co , the state-owned firm which recently bought some of BP’s North Sea assets, sealed a $1.4 billion financing for the expansion of its power plant in Morocco.

Jorf Lasfar is the largest coal-fired power plant in the Middle East and North Africa and the first independent power producer (IPP) in Morocco, supplying 40 per cent of the Kingdom’s electricity output, TAQA said in a statement

The financing is the largest in over a decade for an international project in Morocco with Japanese and Korean export credit agencies participating for the first time in Moroccan project finance, the utility and energy firm said.

Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) and Export-Import Bank of Korea (Korea Eximbank) are providing direct loans and loan guarantees for more than 50 percent of the total project debt.

Banque Centrale Populaire (BCP), BNP Paribas, Société Générale and Standard Chartered Bank were the mandated lead arrangers for the credit facilities.

The lenders are funding some 75 per cent of the total project costs with TAQA committing around $400 million in equity funding.

The 16-year, multi-currency non-recourse debt, maturing in 2028, totals around $1.3 billion with working capital and other facilities amounting to $100 million.

“TAQA’s commitment to meet Morocco’s energy needs was not conditional on financing, as the project is already 80 per cent complete,” Abdulla Saif Al-Nuaimi, vice chairman of TAQA said.

“But this financing shows that, for the right deal with the right structure, significant non-recourse funds can be attracted to the Middle East and North Africa at competitive rates.”

The expansion of Jorf Lasfar will increase Moroccan power generation capacity by more than 10 percent.

Construction of the plant began in September 2010, with TAQA providing interim funding. The expansion is now approximately 80 percent complete and overall costs remain within the $ 1.6 billion budget. The two new units are scheduled to be commissioned in December 2013 and April 2014.

TAQA, owned 75 percent by the government of Abu Dhabi has investments in the energy and power sector from India to the Middle East and Canada. The firm has been active in recent months buying BP’s North Sea assets for $1.3 billion and a 53.2 percent operating interest in an oil block in Iraqi Kurdistan in separate deals.

It also raised $2 billion from a two-part bond sale in December.

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UAE’s Tasweek eyes 30% ROI on Morocco healthcare city


Abu Dhabi-based Tasweek Real Estate Development and Marketing is aiming for a 30 percent return on investment (ROI) from a US$40m Morocco healthcare project set to officially be unveiled on Thursday, the firm’s CEO told Arabian Business.

Marrakech Health Care City will be around 21,000 sqm in size and will include a 160-bed private hospital, a 40-room boutique hotel and 56 residential apartments. The development is set to break ground on Thursday.

Masood Al Awar, Tasweek CEO, said that the developer had already notched up a number of pre-sales on the residential units and was in negotiations with operators to manage the hotel.

“On the pre-sales of the units, we’ve already sold 25 percent of the residential [units], to local investors,” he said in a telephone interview from the Moroccan capital.

“We’re talking to a couple of international operators and a local operator, and there is some bidding going on. We expect within the next quarter we’ll finalise the operator, which could also be extending their operation into managing the apartments as well,” Al Awar added.

Construction of the project will take two years, according to Al Awar, by which Tasweek anticipates that it will have recouped its entire investment on the development. “The return [on investment] on the project will be around 30 percent,” he said. “The return should hopefully come before 24 months (the projected construction timeframe). That is the timeframe we’ve put in and we’re moving towards it very conservatively.”

Al Awar said that Tasweek’s entire US$250m property portfolio had a annual yield of “5 percent to 7 percent”.

Morocco, which was spared the worst of the Arab Spring political turmoil that swept across the region, has been increasingly seeking investment from the Gulf countries.

In October, the North African state’s monarch King Mohammed embarked on a tour of the six-state GCC in a bid to drum up investment. While the Gulf countries last year pledged US$2.5bn in aid to Morocco, the only GCC state among the country’s current top ten trading partners is Saudi Arabia.

Al Awar said that Morocco was eager to attract investment in areas such as healthcare and education. “The local banks in Morocco are very supportive when it comes to the major industries [like] healthcare and education,” he told Arabian Business.

While previously operating as a financier or joint partner, Tasweek has increasingly moved into the development sector and earlier this year it announced it had signed a joint venture agreement to develop, own, operate and market luxury properties in Malaysia.

The deal was with Casabrina Vacation Villas and, under the terms of the venture, Tasweek will market nine boutique Villa hotels under a Shariah-compliant scheme.

The villas are spread over 30 acres of hillside land surrounded by a 130m-year old virgin rainforest just under an hour’s drive from the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Upon completion, the complex will comprise eleven exclusive six and eight-bedroom suites nested at the foothills of Bukit Frasier in Pahang, the largest state in west Malaysia.

The project is due to start handover at the end of next year and it is now 95 percent sold out, Al Awar claimed. “It is a very good result. The project value is around US$86m and [financing] is completed now.”

Al Awar also said the company was looking to Saudi Arabia as a growing market. “We are at the moment trying to establish our contact and in the next two quarters for sure we will confirm our joint venture and start…. [Saudi Arabia] is a huge market and has an organic market and the real estate components are very attractive,” he said.

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London institution: Morocco Strengthening a financial future


Financial institutions in Casablanca and London inked a partnership agreement as part of a broader initiative to deepen Morocco’s alternative markets and strengthen its appeal as an investment platform for neighbouring economies, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.

The agreement, signed between Casablanca Finance City (CFC), a new project which aims to lay the legislative and regulatory groundwork for a regional financial centre, and TheCityUK, which promotes UK financial and professional services abroad, is intended to increase cooperation between the two bodies. The main objectives of the new partnership include facilitating the rollout of a derivatives market in Morocco, improving the competitiveness of domestic insurers and expanding training and educational programmes.

“The links with London are advantageous in that they can help UK companies to consider investing in French-speaking Africa by way of Casablanca,” Said Ibrahimi, the chief executive of Moroccan Financial Board that runs the CFC, told OBG. “London can also help the Bourse de Casablanca to develop new financial instruments.”

Morocco’s finance industry, already one of the continent’s more sophisticated, has experienced steady growth thanks to liberalising sector reforms in the past decade. The country’s sizable universe of financial actors have benefitted from economic growth that has averaged 5.5% over the past 10 years. The Casablanca Stock Exchange is now the fourth-largest bourse in Africa, behind South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt.

Perhaps more importantly, however, the country has also played an increasingly significant role as a staging point for expansion elsewhere in the region. Firms such as Banque Central Populaire, Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur (BMCE), Attijariwafa and Saham Group have all started new units or purchased financial institutions in countries throughout West and Central Africa since 2005, lured by low penetration rates and strong GDP growth.

It is this trend that the CFC is hoping to capitalise on. “The idea behind the CFC is sound, since it anticipates strong growth across Africa, and this growth needs to be financed,” Hamid Ben Elafdil, the director of the Centre Regional d’Investissement Casablanca, told OBG. “Many funds will be channelled to Africa through Casablanca, often originating from London. What helps here is the country’s stability and its good international connections.”

However, to attract a critical mass of financial institutions and underwrite any significant volume of activity, the country will need to continue to overhaul its operating environment. Financial regulatory upgrades will be put in place to ensure the city’s smooth functioning. “To facilitate the development of CFC, financial regulations will be further upgraded in line with IMF standards; and a new market authority will be created, as well as a new body to regulate the insurance market,” Ibrahimi told OBG.

Given the significant returns that African markets offer investors starved of growth prospects elsewhere, Morocco is well-placed to capitalise on its fortuitous location and its developed financial sectors. To do so will require a number of further steps to strengthen its appeal as a regional centre – including improving the offer of alternative financial instruments and overhauling the legal framework – but as evidenced by the expansion of Moroccan firms into West and Central Africa in recent years, the potential is clear. (OBG)

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Morocco offers good rental investment opportunities


London – For investors interested in the buy-to-let sector, Morocco offers good investment opportunities, as this business is likely to prove a profitable move in the country, according to the UK-based foreign exchange money broker Hifx.

Quoting Nik Kapur, director at one of the business agencies, Hifx wrote that the housing market in Morocco has been steadily growing over recent years, marked by a huge demand for rental homes.

“Average yields are far higher than can be found in most developed countries,” director of said, stating that “there is a strong demand for holiday lettings in tourist hotspots like Marrakech.”

Among the key attractions that the Moroccan market provides is the tax advantages that aim to soar interest, Kapur noted.

Kapur added that the Moroccan market has had chance to be “largely insulated” from the “ongoing turmoil” of other global markets.


Morocco: Fruit and Vegetable Exports Grow 9% in 2010-2011


Moroccan exports of fruits and vegetables passed from 478 thousand tons in 2009-2010, to 529 thousand tons in 2010-2011, with an increase of 9%, according to the latest statistics of the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture.

These good results come from good weather conditions for three consecutive seasons, the Ministry highlights, as reported by Agrapress.

Moreover, a favourable trend in the international market is registered. In particular, the only region of Souss-Massa contributes to 70% with a volume that is nearly 300,000 tons.

Finally, during the 2010-2011 campaign, exports from Morocco to Russia and North America have increased by 34 and 62%.


Morocco taps benefits of Barbary fig oil


RABAT — Barbary fig oil, celebrated as an effective anti-ageing skin potion, is following argan oil as a great new cosmetic export from Morocco.

But the tiny amount of oil extracted from each cactus fruit makes Barbary fig oil the most expensive on the market, about a 1,000 euros ($1,440) a liter.

Beyond its cosmetic virtues, the United Nations is urging Morocco to develop the cactus plant in a country where 80 percent of farming is carried out in arid or semi-arid regions.

The push to develop Barbary fig, a cactus fruit well-adapted to extreme weather conditions, comes with a belief that several revenue streams could stem from it.

If successful, the cactus could stand as a business model to other countries looking for cash crops suitable to inhospitably hot climates.

Eight tonnes of the Barbary fig fruit — sometimes known as prickly pear — are needed to produce a litre (quart) of oil used for cosmetics, said Karim Anegay, head of the cactus program at the economic promotion office for southern Morocco.

“This oil is commercialized by Moroccan companies as its anti-ageing virtues are of excellent quality but it’s still early days,” he said.

In Casablanca, cosmetics company Azabane uses Barbary fig oil in shampoo and creams.

Redouane Stouti, a 27-year-old entrepreneur, owns a farm in the Errhamana region, where he produces 10 litres a month from his vast plantation.

“With the help of a machine, the fruit seeds are pressed as is,” he said.

“I have 20 points of sale in Morocco under the ‘Coeur de Figue’ appellation,” he said as he toured a series of alleys where about 30 women were picking the thorny fruit.

Researcher Mohamed Boujnah said the oil was “rich in Vitamin E with a great anti-oxidant power”.

Sofia, a 50-year-old customer, said the oil was “wonderful”.

“Ever since I’ve used it I’ve seen an improvement and elasticity in my skin,” she said.

In the Gulemim and Sidi Ifni regions, both extremely arid, Morocco began an ambitious program to increase cactus production.

The UN Development Program (UNDP) contributed $1.7 million to the program and provided technical assistance, said El Kebir Alaouoi M’Daghri, the program director.

Annual production of Barbary fig fruit in Morocco is 1.2 million tonnes from 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres) of plantations, mostly in southern regions.

Originally imported from the Americas in the 16th century, the cactus and its fruit are used traditionally, often as food. Orangish-red when ripe, the fruit’s juicy insides taste something like a very sweet watermelon.

UN experts say the fruit can even be used as sustenance during famines.

In southern regions, “conventional farming can no longer provide added value and that is why we have found cactus cultivation as an alternative,” M’Daghri said.

The Sidi Ifni province recently held a festival to promote the cactus fruit, and the UN-backed program is currently building installations to improve production of Morocco’s latest agricultural initiative.


Despite regional troubles, Morocco continues its progress, OBG


London – Despite regional troubles, Morocco continues its progress, says International think-tank Oxford Business Group (OBG) in an analysis received, on Monday, by MAP.

Various factors point to encouraging prospects for the Moroccan economy in 2011, namely an excellent harvest and a continuous diversification of the Moroccan economy, the think-tank adds.

The figures of 2010 and the five first months of 2011 also show a rate of inflation which is maintained at a low level, notes the OBG, which publishes analyses and periodic reports on the main emerging countries.

Quoting figures of the High Commission for Planning (HCP), the OBG says that the Moroccan GDP grew by 3.7% in 2010, an increase recorded for the 13th consecutive year.

The group highlights the increasing diversification of the Moroccan economy, as evidenced by the growth of non-agricultural sector that reached 4.5% in 2010.

Referring to a report published last April by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on world economy prospects, the OBG says that all conditions are met for a strong growth in 2011.

Tourism receipts also increased 8% in the first five months of 2011, according to the same source.

Regarding inflation, the think-tank says that it is completely controlled, reaching less than 1% in 2010 according to estimates of the IMF, a figure that is practically unchanged compared to 2009.

The performance of various indicators remains sound, the group points out, noting, however, that the economy “is confronted with some difficulties in 2011.”


Could Morocco be First to Get 42% Solar?


It might seem counter-intuitive, but an undeveloped North African nation could be the first in the world to get 42% of its electricity from solar power. It has set its policy to achieve that end. And, startlingly, undeveloped nations actually do now lead the world in the addition of new renewable energy. France has just stepped forward to help. (Paris Gives Morocco’s Solar Plan a Frank Chance)

The extraordinary Moroccan Solar Plan unveiled last November is aimed at achieving a hugely ambitious 42% renewable energy target by 2020, higher than California’s 33% and second only to Portugal’s 45%. Unlike them, it is putting all of its renewable energy eggs in one basket. Solar. All kinds of solar. Fourteen percent is to carved out for just concentrated solar power, CSP. So why Morocco?

Like Israel, Morocco has an energy balance heavily weighted against it by the need to import fossil fuels. With no fossil-fuel production capacity, Morocco has to import all its fuel requirements. Perhaps because Morocco is a monarchy, it can lever a tighter decisionmaking power center than in a democracy. In some ways, the fewer people needed to make a decision, the easier it is to run a country. China too has no trouble implementing renewable policy, because of its tightly held decisionmaking power, as a dictatorship.

But whatever the reason for the scale of this ambitious undertaking, the world has Morocco’s back in this endeavour. Solar trade shows like MENASOL and EneR in November 2011 are now drawn like magnets towards the region. Both the World Bank and the African Development Bank have now committed a variety of funding mechanisms to develop Moroccan solar.

Morocco’s policy framework is the result of government decision to be cautious in introducing feedin tariffs because it could put threaten financial stability, as happened in Spain. The set price Spain’s government offered to pay per kilowatt hour for solar was too generous, leading to a run of offers. Spain has many more megawatts in solar production than necessary as a result, and has had to modify its contracts, and even reduce them after the fact, demanding shorter hours of operation for solar power suppliers: eroding trust.

Learning from this, Morocco has a flexible policy with step downs built in from the start and has currently set two tariffs, one for peak and a lower one for offpeak energy production. In addition, it now has the regulatory framework in place to allow energy products from solar power to be exported, thereby making it of interest to both developers and investors. And it has established a single authority, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), to run the tenders and sign the contracts for all this new renewable power.


Morocco awarded African Country of the Future 2011/12


London – Morocco has been awarded Morocco awarded the African Country of the Future 2011/12 by the FDI Intelligence, a division of the prestigious British press group The Financial Times, specializing in foreign direct investment (FDI).

Morocco, improves its ranking, as it has moved from the third position in 2009/10, to be the best investment destination in Africa.

The breakthrough of Morocco “is due to its success in attracting FDI,” said the FDI Intelligence, noting that foreign direct investment declined in South Africa and Egypt (first and second in last year’s ranking), in contrast to Morocco, where foreign investment has increased by 8% in 2010.

Morocco is one of the few countries in the region with an increase of foreign direct investment projects, said the IDF Intelligence.

The Top-10 African, led by Morocco, includes Egypt (4th), Ghana (5th), Seychelles (6th), Tunisia (7th), Namibia (8th), Ethiopia (9th) and Kenya (10th).


Morocco sees 2012 GDP growth at around 5 pct


RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco said it expects its energy-importing economy to grow by between 4.7 and 5.2 percent in 2012, near forecasts for 2011, on the assumption of an oil price 33 percent above the basis for this year’s budget.

In remarks carried by the official MAP news agency, Finance and Economy Minister Salaheddine Mezouar put at 2 percent the inflation forecast for next year, up from 1.4 percent forecast for 2011.

The 2012 outlook is based on an average oil price of $100 per barrel versus $75 for the 2011 budget. A country of 33 million people with no oil of its own, Morocco imported 5.24 million tonnes of crude in 2010, official data shows, and demand is growing by 6 percent annually.

The non-agricultural economy is expected to grow by between 5 and 5.5 percent in 2012, said Mezouar, noting that it clocked a 5.1 percent increase in the first half of 2011.

The minister did not disclose forecasts for agriculture’s growth or grains harvest, key in determining wheat import needs for a country that heavily subsidises food products and where 40 percent of the workforce works in farming.

The state expects the burden of food and energy subsidies to fall by almost 8 percent to 40 billion dirhams in 2012, compared to this year, Mezouar said.

The government raised subsidies to 43 billion dirhams from an initially budgeted 17 billion dirhams for 2011 as it sought to avert any spillover from revolts rocking the Arab region.

The push to calm street protests eroded Morocco’s public finances and raised concern over its ability to fund key projects at a time when it was struggling to cope with high oil and grain prices.

The minister did not disclose forecasts for next year’s budget deficit nor did he update the GDP growth forecast for 2011, initially set at 5 percent.

The central bank expects the budget deficit to rise to as high as 5 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 from the government’s initial 3.5 percent forecast.

In 2010, the budget deficit stood at 4.5 percent of GDP, or 35.1 billion dirhams.

The spending spree in 2011, coupled with the surge in energy and wheat prices, forced the government to sell assets that have so far netted 6 billion dirhams this year. For details see


The government can also net $1 billion this year from the revived plans to sell part of its 30 percent stake in Maroc Telecom

Protests in Morocco have not sparked revolts as in Yemen or Tunisia, partly because the government kept trade unions on side by agreeing to a multi-billion dollar wage hike in late-April.

Mezouar said the public wage bill is expected to increase to 95 billion dirhams in 2012 as a result of the agreement with the unions. He did not give a comparative figure but the 2011 budget put public wages forecast at 86 billion dirhams prior to the agreement.

Moroccan authorities however plan to cut other running costs of public administration by 10 percent and are stepping up efforts for better collection of tax and custom duties.


Morocco succeeded in resisting global slowdown thanks to FDI, privatization receipts, OECD


Rabat – Morocco succeeded in resisting the global slowdown thanks to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and privatization receipts, head of the Private Sector Development Division at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anthony O’sullivan said, underlining that the Kingdom showed commitment to economic openness by concluding several free trade agreement.

“By the increase of the FDI sixfold in five years, in addition to the receipts of privatization, we got results despite the fact that Morocco is impacted by the downturn like the rest of the region’s countries,” O’sullivan told French-speaking paper “Le Matin du Sahara et du Maghreb”.

This country set up an anti-poverty program called the INDH to help the underprivileged, and developed its tertiary sector which stands for 60% of the GDP, thus reducing its dependence on agriculture, he added, recalling reforms implemented to improve the business climate, mainly the creation of the National Committee for Business Environment, the Moroccan Investment Development Agency and regional investment centers.

He went on saying that Morocco is among the countries of the region which have many development plans in relation to the different sectors: plan Emergence, vision 2020 for tourism, green Morocco plan, digital Morocco 2013 plan, and the energy plan. “All these plans complement each other and seek to promote growth and employment.”

He highlighted the interest Morocco takes in infrastructure development including building the Tanger Med port, tourist centers, airports and highways, developing the electricity, water and telecommunication sectors, and slashing taxes in favor of businesses with a code of good governance.


US businessmen delegation to explore Morocco’s investment opportunities next October


Washington – The US Chamber of Commerce (USCC), will organize next October, a trade mission to Morocco with the participation of a group of leading US businessmen in order to explore the investment opportunities offered in the Kingdom, the USCC said on Monday.

The delegation of US businessmen will visit Casablanca to examine investment opportunities with representatives of big organizations from the Moroccan private sector, the same source said, adding that the members of the US trade mission will also meet with Moroccan officials in Rabat.

The meetings will focus on renewable energy, finance, information technologies and agriculture.

Last March, the US Department of Commerce (USDC) organized a trade mission to Morocco, during which representatives of big US enterprises met with Moroccan economic and commercial operators and learned about the investment and partnership opportunities offered by the Kingdom.


Leading British law firm , Norton Rose ,to open office in Casablanca


Norton Rose, the London-headquartered law firm, will announce on Thursday that it is opening in Casablanca, making it the third UK firm this week to launch in Morocco’s largest city.

Norton Rose, which already operates in South Africa and Tanzania, will open the office with lawyers who have up until now been working in the firm’s Paris office. The Casablancan team will be headed by Alain Malek, who leads the firm’s North African and Middle East practice, which has advised clients including La Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion, the Moroccan state-backed financial institution, and Attijariwafa Bank.

The office will initially focus on clients in the financial services, energy and telecommunications sectors, Peter Martyr, Norton Rose’s group chief executive, told the Financial Times.

Norton Rose’s arrival in Morocco comes three days after Clifford Chance announced it would be opening in Casablanca, and less than a week after Allen & Overy said it would start an office there. For the latter two firms, which both belong to the elite so-called magic circle, Casablanca is their first African office.

“The Casablanca proposal is not in reaction to recent market announcements, but has been some months in development,” said Tim Marsden, Norton Rose’s deputy managing partner, in a statement. “We are in a unique position to develop Africa’s international business ties with the rest of the world.”

The scramble for Africa is indicative of firms’ thirst for growth in new markets. Africa is particularly attractive because of deals emanating from China’s pursuit of natural resources. Mr Marsden said that having a strong presence in Africa was also important to win work on investment from India.

Norton Rose has been in the forefront of the push into Africa, announcing a merger with South African firm Deneys Reitz last November.

That combination, whose constituents do not share profits, was completed at the beginning of this month. A similar arrangement has been made with Ogilvy Renault, the Canadian firm. Norton Rose also used the same Swiss Verein model – which ringfences entities in each jurisdiction from tax and regulatory burdens – to merge with an Australian firm in 2010.

This means there are now 2,600 lawyers around the world working under the Norton Rose brand, making it one of the top 10 biggest firms in the world by number of lawyers.

The Casablanca office will share its profits with Norton Rose LLP.

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Tourist arrivals in Morocco up 6.3% in H1 2011


Rabat – A total of 4.2 million tourists have visited Morocco during the first half of 2011, a rise of 6.3% compared to the same period last year,a according to the Tourism Ministry.

This upward trend has concerned the Kingdom’s major markets, namely France (+4%), Germany (+18%), the United Kingdom (+12%), Italy (+5%) and Belgium (+17%).

The night stays fell 2%, except for Agadir which saw a 4% rise in the reporting period.

Morocco sought to attract 10 million tourists by 2010 under Vision 2010, but the global economic slump has had a clear impact on the tourist flow.


Two British major law firms to open branches in Morocco

Allen & Overy establishes African hub with Morocco launch


Allen & Overy today announces the launch of an office in Casablanca with the addition of leading Moroccan lawyers Hicham Naciri and Yassir Ghorbal, becoming the first major global law firm to establish a presence on the African continent.

The Casablanca office will be a key platform for Allen & Overy’s strategy in Africa, enabling it to build on its existing Africa business (see deal highlights below). The launch also underlines its commitment to continued growth in emerging markets.

The office will open in September following the arrival of François Duquette, from Allen & Overy’s Abu Dhabi office, and Yassir Ghorbal currently a partner at Gide Loyrette Nouel – Naciri & Associés. Philippe de Richoufftz, a local Casablanca partner at Gide Loyrette Nouel – Naciri & Associés, will also be joining the Allen & Overy Paris office as Counsel.

The Casablanca office will be joined later in the year by Hicham Naciri, who will lead the operation, with up to 25 lawyers anticipated to join by 2012. Hicham is also currently a partner at Gide Loyrette Nouel – Naciri & Associés.

Commenting, Allen & Overy global managing partner Wim Dejonghe said: “Morocco is rapidly establishing itself as a key hub for international companies and investors looking to build a presence in Africa. It also has strong trade links with other markets in our network, particularly France, the Middle East and Spain, with growing interest from China, India and Japan. It’s the perfect match for our global network and our emerging markets strategy and offers a fantastic platform to build on our extensive Africa-focused work.”

Tim Scales, partner in the Paris office, and head of Allen & Overy’s Africa desk, adds: “Hicham and Yassir have succeeded in establishing the leading commercial legal practice in Morocco. Their experience both in Morocco and the wider region will be invaluable to us and our clients. Morocco is one of the leading destinations for foreign direct investment in Africa and was one of the few to see an increase in 2010. We see huge opportunities in the region, particularly in the energy, infrastructure and mining sectors.”

The news comes in the same week that Allen & Overy launches its new Washington operations. The addition of Casablanca will take its network to 39 offices in 27 countries around the world – the largest global footprint among the leading global law firms.

In Allen & Overy’s recent annual results about half of its revenue growth for the 2011 financial year came from its newly established emerging market-related offices around the world. Launching in Morocco provides an opportunity to further build on that success.

Allen & Overy has been involved in a significant amount of work in Morocco and North Africa to date – its five most noteworthy deals across Africa in the last year were:

• Jorf Lasfar, Morocco: TAQA and JLEC on the development and financing of a 700MW expansion of the Jorf Lasfar coal-fired power plant in Morocco.

• Lake Turkana Wind Project & Ketraco, Kenya: Lake Turkana Wind Company and Aldwych International on the development and financing of a 300 MW wind farm in Lake Turkana, Kenya and Ketraco in relation to the construction of a related 425km power transmission line in Kenya.

• Perenco: BNP Paribas, Calyon and Société Générale in relation to the USD2.8bn borrowing base facility for Perenco. The borrowing base consisted of over 100 assets located across the world in countries including Colombia, Congo, Egypt, Gabon, Guatemala, Tunisia, Turkey and the UK. This won European Upstream Oil and Gas Deal of the Year 2010 , Project Finance Euromoney 2011

• O3b Networks Limited: O3b Networks Limited (“O3b”) on the financing of the project to design, build, launch and operate an eight MEO satellite constellation for communications coverage over Africa. This won African Telecoms Deal of the Year 2010 Project Finance International 2011 and Project Finance Euromoney 2011

• Suez Steel Company: The lenders in relation to the USD280m and EGP1,064m financing of the construction of a direct reduction plant, a new steel melt-shop and casting plant and upgrading the existing furnace to 800 tons per annum of steel billet in Egypt for Suez Steel Company, voted as The Banker’s Deal of the Year 2011 award for the Infrastructure.


Signature of a Loan and Guarantee Agreements in the Kingdom of Morocco


Loan Agreement was signed today in the city of Rabat between Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and the National Office for Railways (O.N.C.F.), whereby Kuwait Fund will make a loan of Kuwaiti Dinars (K.D.) 25 million (equivalent to about U.S.$ 85 million) to assist in financing the High Speed Rail Link (Tangier – Casablanca) Project. A Guarantee Agreement relating to the Loan was also signed between the Kingdom of Morocco and Kuwait Fund.

His Excellency Mr.Khalid Safir, Secr’etaire General in ministry of Economy and Finance signed the Guarantee Agreement on behalf of the Kingdom of Morocco, while Mr. Mohamed Rabie Khlie, General Manager of the National Office for Railways signed the Loan Agreement on behalf of the said Office. Mr. Abdulwahab Ahmed Al-Bader, the Director-General of Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development signed both the Loan and Guarantee Agreements on behalf of Kuwait Fund.

The Project, which will Use high speed rail transport technology, aims at meeting the increasing demand on railways passenger traffic between Tangier, Kuneitra, Rabat and Casablanca, reducing travelling time, improving railway transport efficiency, reducing operating costs in addition to improving safety and security and reducing the pollution resulting from reliance on road transport.

The Project involves the construction of a new dual track railway line, 196 KM long, for high speed trains connecting Tangier and Kuneitra and travelling at a speed of 320 KM/Hour. This railway line will connect with the present line between Kuneitra, Rabat and Casablanca which is 126 KM long and on which trains will be travelling at a speed of 160 KM/Hour. The Project includes land acquisition, civil works for the infra-structure for the high speed line, works for protection of the environment, railway track works, electricity supply lines, sub-stations, works required to develop the railway stations in Tangier, Kuneitra, Rabat and Casablanca, signaling, communications and traffic management systems, construction of a workshop in Tangier for the maintenance of trains, one base in Asila and another in Kuneitra for construction and maintenance of railway lines, in addition to the supply of high speed trains consisting of two locomotives and 8 railway double-decker carriages/wagons, each train having the capacity to accommodate 534 passengers. The Project also includes the provision of consulting services for the preparation of studies and supervision of construction as well as the provision of technical support to the department concerned with the high speed railway line.

The total cost of the Project is estimated at about Moroccan Dirhams 22.5 billion, equivalent to about K.D. 817 million, of which about Moroccan Dirhams 17.99 billion, equivalent to about K.D. 653 million, are in foreign exchange, representing about 80% of the total cost of the Project.

In addition to the above-mentioned loan, Kuwait Fund, pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the State of Kuwait and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco, will make a second loan in the amount of K.D. 15 million for financing the Project. It will also be financed by loans from the Saudi Fund for Development, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, King Hassan II Fund, and a grant and loans from the French Government and other French agencies in addition to the allocations made by the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco and funding by O.N.C.F.

The term of Kuwait Fund Loan is 22 years, including a grace period of 6 years. The Loan is to be amortized in 32 semi-annual installments, the first of which will be due on the first date on which interest or other charges on the loan will be due, in accordance with the Loan Agreement, after the expiry of the above-mentioned grace period. The Loan bears interest at the rate of 2.5% per annum in addition to a service charge of 0.5% per annum for meeting administrative costs and the expenses of implementing the Loan Agreement.

The Loan represents the thirty seventh loan by Kuwait Fund for the financing of projects in the Kingdom of Morocco, as Kuwait Fund already made 36 loans to the Kingdom of Morocco, or agencies thereof, of a total amount of about Kuwaiti Dinars 367 million, equivalent to about U. S. Dollars 1248 million, for the financing of projects in various sectors. In addition Kuwait Fund made a technical assistance grant amounting to K.D. 150,000, equivalent to about US$ 500,000, to meet the cost of preparation of economic and technical feasibility studies for providing potable water to villages and rural areas and also made a grant of K.D. 1 million for the construction and expansion of a hospital in Asila, together with a home for old and incapacitated people.


British Midland International to launch new flights in Morocco


London – British Midland International (Bmi) announced, on Tuesday, that it will lunch in October new flights linking London Heathrow to Agadir, Air and Business Travel News website reported.

Bmi will start twice-weekly flights, on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

It already operates flights to two other destinations in Morocco, namely Marrakech and Casablanca.

From October 1st, Bmi will be increasing its flights to Marrakech from three to five per week.

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Morocco welcomes support of Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership


Brussels – Morocco welcomed, on Wednesday, the support brought to it by the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) as well as the results achieved by this institutions in developing Euro-Mediterranean relations.

Speaking in Brussels during the 11th ministerial meeting of the FEMIP, Director of Treasury and Finance at the Economy and Finance Ministry, Faouzia Zaaboul called on the institution to “ increase its funding and to seek new means of intervention to effectively support the countries of the region in implementing priority reform projects.”

The Mediterranean region managed, amid a context marked by the international crisis, to maintain a macro-economic framework and show resilience of its economy through a careful management of its public finances, Zaaboul was quoted as saying in a statement by her department.

The meeting tackled the activities of the FEMIP during the 2010 financial year, its three-year operational plan for 2011-2013 and the undertaken initiatives to support Mediterranean partner countries.

Co-chaired by Polish Finance Minister, whose country assumes the rotating EU Presidency, and the President of the European Investment Bank, the meeting was attended by several Ministers and senior officials from Mediterranean partner countries of the Union.


Morocco’s exports to USA up 56% in 2010


Washington – Morocco’s exports to the United States rose 56% in 2010 over 2009, with food products making up 18% of these exports, Moroccan minister of foreign trade announced.

Abdellatif Maâzouz, who inaugurated the Moroccan pavilion at the 57th Summer Fancy Food Show (July 9-12), highlighted the innovative character and the high quality of the Moroccan products exhibited in the show by 26 Moroccan firms.

He insisted that the US market gives enormous opportunities for the Moroccan exports, especially with the Free Trade Agreement signed between the two countries, which entered into force in 2006.

The Moroccan products exhibited in this show include fruits and vegetables, sauce, condiments, sea products, olive and argan oil and safran.

The show, which is being held for the first time in Washington, features some 20 seminars and thematic workshops.


2011, a new bumper year for Morocco’s tourism, OBG


London – After a strong growth in 2010, figures for early 2011 point to another bumper year for Morocco’s tourism, said the Oxford Business Group (OBG).

Confidence remains high despite the April bombing of a café in Marrakech, the effect of which appears to have been limited and ongoing regional instability. The government continues to roll out ambitious plans for the decade ahead, said the think-tank in a report.

Visitor numbers have increased every year in the past decade, and tourist arrivals to Morocco reached 9.3m for the year as a whole in 2010, up a strong 11.5 pc on 2009 figures of 8.34m, said the group, adding that nights spent in the country were also well up, by 11 pc year-on-year (y-o-y), as were room occupation rates, from 41 pc in 2009 to 44 pc last year.

The bottom-line indicator for the sector, tourism receipts, grew by a healthy 6 pc on the previous year, to Dh56.2bn, although it is worth pointing out that revenues declined in 2009 amidst the lingering effects of the global economic slowdown, notes OBG.

This year is also off to a strong start, with all major indicators again showing healthy growth, added the source, noting that despite a dip in March, tourist arrivals increased 6 pc y-o-y in the first quarter of 2011, to 1.83m.

Arrivals in April were up 18 pc y-o-y, to 784,000. Nights spent in hotels in the first quarter also grew, from 3.76m in first-quarter 2010 to 4.01m in first-quarter 2011, a y-o-y rise of 7 pc, which helped boost occupancy rates by two percentage points, to 41 pc.

Total tourism receipts for January, February and March increased by 6.7 pc y-o-y, to Dh11.1bn.

French tour operators also reported little in the way of cancellations following the bombing. Local business representatives regard this number as relatively small and encouraging, having feared a significantly worse effect.

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Morocco has ‘great potential’ to become a regional hub for technology, innovation, US official


Rabat – Morocco is “well positioned and has a great potential” to become a hub in terms of technology and innovation in North Africa, said on Friday in Rabat US Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Environment, and Science Kerri-Ann Jones.

The US official highlighted Morocco’s efforts to link the research community to the productive sectors through concrete projects and commended its participation in international initiatives, saying that this positions the Kingdom to take a leading role in the region in terms of technology and innovation.

Jones, who was speaking to the press at the end of a conference of the Global Innovation through Sience and Technology (GIST), stressed the convergence of views with several Moroccan officials regarding the role that science and innovation can play in stimulating productivity.

On the same occasion, the US official highlighted the excellent partnership relations between Morocco and the US, notably in fields relating to the protection of the environment.

Environmental cooperation is part of the FTA sigtned between the two countries, she recalled.

Concerning renewable energy, Jones hailed Morocco for its commitment to develop wind and solar energy, noting the Kingdom’s active participation in international organisations, such as the International Agency of Renewable Energies.

Held on June 16-17 in collaboration between the Department of Higher Education, training and Scientific Research and the US Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), the conference is the third to be held by the GIST initiative in a serries of regional conferences aimed at identifying and proposing solutions to economic development challenges in Muslim-majority nations.

The event, in the Royal Acedemy of the Kingdom of Morocco, brought together experts and researchers from 25 countries.

One of the primary science and technology initiatives proposed by U.S. President Barack Obama during his 2009 Cairo speech, the GIST conference serves as a forum for regional innovation to present and discuss mechanisms to create and sustain programs that balance both economic development and global market needs.

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Morocco, WB sign $4 mln-donation agreement to integrate climate change in development of Morocco’s Green Plan


Rabat – Morocco and the World Bank (WB) signed, on Wednesday in Rabat, an agreement related to a donation for financing the project of integrating climate change in the development of Morocco’s Green plan (PMV).

The donation, totalling 4.3 million dollars, is granted by the World Environment Fund (WEF).

Signed by Economy Minister Salaheddine Mezouar, Director of the Maghreb Department in the World Bank Simon Gray and head of the Agricultural Development Agency Ahmed Hajjaji, the agreement is meant to foster the capacity of Moroccan farmers to adjust to the impact of climate change within the framework of the PMV.

Approved on May 17, the donation aims to integrate measures of adjustment to climate change in projects carried out as part of the PMV through reinforcing the capacities of public and private institutions and farmers.

It is destined for small-scale farmers in the regions of Chaouia-Ouardigha, Rabat-Sale-Zemmour-Zaer, Tadla-Azilal, Doukkala-Abda and Gharb-Cherarda-Beni Hssen.


Tanger Med, model of public-private partnership success at Mediterranean, European level, vice president of EIB


Casablanca – The Tanger Med port is model of public-private partnership success at the Mediterranean and European level, vice president of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Philippe de Fontaine Vive, said on Monday in Casablanca.

Morocco achieved major developments on matters of public-private partnership (PPP), he affirmed at a press conference on the sidelines of the ninth conference of FEMIP (facility for Euro-Mediterranean investment and partnership) themed “addressing the infrastructure challenge in the Mediterranean: the potential of public-private partnerships.”

The EIB’s official reiterated the Bank’s commitment to contribute to development programs launched by the Kingdom, stressing the importance of this conference which is held at a time when over 300 billion euros is needed by 2030 to modernize infrastructure in the Mediterranean region.

He emphasized the importance that the EU and the G8 give to the Mediterranean zone which boasts tremendous potentialities.

Morocco, which has a PPP experience in several areas, supports changing conventional ways for financing development projects, Economy Minister Salaheddine Mezouar said at the joint press conference attended also by Tunisian finance minister Jelloul Ayed.

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Chairman of ‘Boston consulting group’ calls for investing in Morocco


New York – Chairman of “Boston consulting group”(BCG), the world’s leading advisor on business strategy, called Thursday in New York on investors to take an interest in the emergence of the African continent and choose Morocco as a gateway to growing markets.

Speaking at a forum on the Moroccan economy, Lesser urged the US investors to put “Morocco at the heart of their growth strategy” in Africa.

Boston consulting group, which is present in over 40 countries in five continents, opened its first African bureau in Casablanca in 2010.

“We opted for Morocco following a detailed analysis of several macro-economic criteria, the political stability, democratic vitality and openness to the rest of the world,” Lesser said.

“Morocco topped our list, jointly with South Africa, where we will open this month our second Africa bureau,” he added.

“We are also convinced that Morocco could become a platform of industrial production towards Europe thanks to its geographical location,” Lesser said.


EU allotted €70 mln in 2010 in support of Morocco’s Green Plan, European Commission says


Brussels – The European Union launched, late 2010, a 70 million Euro-program to support the 2nd mainstay of Morocco’s Green Plan (PMV), according to the annual report on the implementation of the European Union neighborhood policy.

Issued on Thursday in Brussels, the report elaborated by the European Commission underlined that the second mainstay of Morocco’s Green Plan targets solidarity-based agriculture in remote areas.

The 2010 report highlights the progress made at the institutional and legislative levels, as well as in terms of partners’ mobilization and investment incentives.

The document also praised efforts made by the Agriculture Ministry regarding the programs of agricultural lands’ development.

Determined to strengthen economic competition and diversity, the Moroccan government launched a strategy for the development of commercial logistics with an investment of 7 billion dollars by 2015, it added.

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Morocco’s exports to FTA countries up 23% in 2010 -minister


Rabat – Morocco’s exports to the countries with which the Kingdom has signed a free trade agreement (FTA) have risen by 23% in 2010, as against a 7% rise in imports, the minister of foreign trade said on Tuesday.

In this regard, Adellatif Maazouz noted during the House of Advisors’ question time that the exports of goods increased by 31% last year.

Morocco’s overall exports, he said, generated a total of 253 billion dirhams, recording a record increase of 20% on 2009, with a continued upward trend in the first quarter of 2011 (39%).

Morocco has concluded FTAs with a number of countries and economic groupings, including the European Union, the United States, and the Agadir Agreement member-countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt).

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Bombardier Group To Make Major Investment In Morocco


Morocco is on a short list of countries selected by the Bombardier group for a major industrial investment. This was announced on Thursday, March 5, by Mr. Guy Hachey, president and CEO of Bombardier Aerospace in Casablanca.

Mr. Guy Hachey was speaking at an industry conference on Morocco’s Industrial development master plan, with King Mohammed VI in the audience.

Bombardier has nine major production center in the world (Canada, Mexico, Northern Ireland …) said Guy Hachey, suggesting that future investment would fit into this plan. According to Moroccan Industry sources, Bombardier’s investment in Morocco is close to being finalized. It could be a factory. Its location was not specified. Morocco is competing with Turkey for this project.

Guy Hachey said his group had three options: an expansion of its operations in Mexico, an industrial establishment in an emerging country close to European markets or expanding its supplier base in Europe.

Bombardier’s boss said he was already working with several companies based in Morocco, including SERMP (Piston, FR).

Aeronautics is on the priority list in Morocco’s industrial development master plan. The sector currently employs about 10,000 people. It is concentrated in the Casablanca region, near the industrial park at the Nouaceur airport which already hosts a number of European and North American aeronautic manufacturing companies.

An aeronautics trade institute of (IMA), is about to be inaugurated. It will eventually train 800 students per year in the various aeronautic trades.

While the MENA region is in turmoil, Guy Hachey said he was prepared to invest in Morocco with confidence, as he praised its stability and reforms.


Morocco and WB examine ways to promote energy co-operation


Casablanca – Moroccan Minister of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment, held, on Thursday in Casablanca, a working meeting with the President of the World Bank (WB), Robert Zoellick, on means to promote co-operation in the field of energy.

Amina Benkhdra told MAP that the meeting is part of regular meetings between Morocco and the World Bank to enhance cooperation, especially in the area of renewable energies.

She added that the World Bank has been supporting Morocco’s efforts to promote clean energies, and has substantially financed projects implemented in this field, such as the solar station of Beni M’thar.

The Minister also highlighted the Bank’s significant contribution to human development projects launched in the Kingdom, notably the National Initiative for Human Development, as well as other reforms under way in the country.

Zoellick, who arrived in Morocco on Wednesday, met with governmental officials and civil society stakeholders and took part on Thursday in the second conference on industry, which was presided over by HM King Mohammed VI.

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Morocco: Private Aviation Company Launch


According to the Moroccan weekly “Challenge”, Dalia Development Group, a Kuwaiti company, will launch an airline that specializes in renting private jet in Morocco in 2010.

Dalia Development Group SA is a holding company of Moroccan law, with a capital of one million dirham that is being increased to 500 million dirham.

The service activities of the new company will cover the personal services, luxury vehicles rentals with drivers and the organization and coordination of business groups.

This company comes at a time when travel by private jet is popular among senior executives, celebrities and billionaires. Many Companies have invested in this niche market in recent years, like Marrakech Air Service, Maint Aero, Media Business Jet Aviation Palmair, Casa Air Services…


Avaya real-time collaboration launched in Morocco


Leading global enterprise communications company Avaya has launched a new business initiative in Morocco that aims to provide the company’s latest technology products in real time collaboration to Moroccan businesses. The move also gives Avaya the opportunity to offer its Flare! Solution, the first next-generation item that the company says delivers “unique collaboration capabilities across video, voice and data.”

The company announced the new venture at an ICT forum in Casablanca. Delegates included industry experts and leaders, senior government officials and private executives.

Analysts in Morocco said the announcement is likely to boost technological innovation in the country and deliver better business practices to customers across the North African country.

“It is certainly something new and will likely see a lot of takers in the near future, so we will definitely keep an eye on Avaya as it progresses in Morocco,” said Ibrahim Abdelmajid.

According to an Avaya press release, the new platform will give business and clients the ability to make video calls and conferencing “as easy as making a telephone call by using the same platform for both.”

“The innovations Avaya is now bringing to this market are game changers and will allow our customers in Morocco to change the conversation with their own customers,” said Nidal Abou-Lataif, vice president for emerging markets at Avaya.

“Our partners have done an excellent job at developing our business and ensuring the satisfaction of Avaya users across multiple industries. With the latest collaboration solutions, our customers will be able to deliver a strategic impact, which will help reinvigorate their business by using open, standards-based real-time communications and collaboration applications,” he added.

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WB chief strongly supports Morocco’s solar plan


Washington – President of the World Bank Group (WB) Robert Zoellick strongly supported, Friday in Washington, Morocco’s solar energy plan launched by HM King Mohammed VI, urging the European Union (EU) to establish the conditions for the success of this project.

Speaking at the ministerial meeting on climate actions, on the sidelines of the 2011 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the WB, Zoellick said that the Moroccan plan is an influential project in the region and could also help the regional integration.

In this regard, he called on the EU’s countries to support Morocco’s solar plan and establish the conditions for its success including developing a market for green energy in the region and strengthening the interconnections between the EU and the countries south of the Mediterranean, including Morocco, in order to help facilitate and make more viable this large-scale project.

In response to this call, Spain’s representative at the meeting voiced his country’s will to strongly contribute to the success of the Moroccan solar energy project.

For his part, the Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister in charge of Economic and General Affairs, Nizar Baraka, stressed that the theme of climate change is crucial for the Maghreb and Arab countries, saying it is essential that these countries would be able to overcome this major problem.

He also pointed out that although currently there is an interest to meet the short-term issues of governance improvement, democratic transition and job creation, it is important for Morocco to take into account the long-term issues, including that of climate change.

At the meeting, whose discussions focused on the setting up of the Green Climate Fund, which aims to strengthen and develop national plans on climate change, Baraka also underlined that Morocco is well positioned to benefit from this Fund’s financing and be part of its Board of Directors, of which two thirds will consist of developing countries.

He also noted that Morocco is strongly committed to this path by implementing an Environment Charter as well as a National Climate Change Plan to address the major issues in this field.

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Foreign firms show increasing interest in Morocco mass retail, OBG says


London – Foreign firms are showing increasing interest in Morocco’s mass retail sector, said International think-tank Oxford Business Group (OBG).

The entry of foreign companies in the Moroccan market would surely revitalize this sector, which sees an increasingly fierce competition, at a time when a growing number of private companies (domestic and foreign) are planning to gain a foothold or expand in Morocco, OBG said in an analysis received by MAP news agency.

The group recalled that in last March, the Turkish no-frills low-cost supermarket chain BIM announced plans to almost double the size of its existing store network in Morocco, from the current 45 to 80.

It has plans to further expand to 150 stores by the end of 2012, said the source, adding that while there is growing foreign interest in Moroccan mass retail, local companies are also increasing their clout in the sector.

“The [Moroccan] government is supporting the pursuit of large-scale shopping facilities. The Rawaj plan, launched in 2008, aims to treble large-scale retail capacity by 2020,” The OBG pointed out.

Some 56 large-scale retail outlets are due to open by 2012 alone, with the country boasting 600 such facilities by 2020, the group said, noting that the expansion of large-scale, modern retail outlets will likely result in a gradual change in habits in the years to come.

“With backing from the government in the form of the Rawaj plan and growing investment from both local and foreign players alike, the country’s shoppers look set to benefit from lower prices and greater choice on store shelves,” said the OBG.

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Morocco: 28 % increase in exports mainly phosphates


Rabat – Moroccan merchandise exports reached at the end of last February about 26.2 billion dirhams (MMDH), recording an increase of 28% from the same period in 2010, reported Morocco’s exchange rate monitoring body “Offices des Changes”.

This increase is due to both exports of phosphates and derivatives that reached 19.7 billion dirhams, up 17.5%, as sales of phosphates and derivatives achieved 6.5 billion dirhams at the end of February 2011, explained the Office des Changes in its monthly indicators of the foreign trade.

Exports of natural and chemical fertilizers have reached 2.9 billion dirhams compared to 1.1 billion dirhams a year earlier.

Other groups of products, including foreign sales, that rose last February are finished products (+40.2%), raw materials (+39.1%) and finished consumer products (+13%).

Conversely, food products exports have declined by 10.2%.

Imports of goods, reached at the end of February 2011, approximately 51.8 billion dirhams, a 30.5% year-on-year increase.

The Office des Changes said this increase is primarily due to the recorded rise in non-oil acquisitions (+27.8% to 47 billion dirhams) and to a lesser extent on imports of oil (4.7 billion dirhams).

The trade balance showed a deficit of 25.5 billion dirhams over the first two months of 2011, compared to 19.1 billion dirhams trade deficit a year earlier.


Morocco’s political stability basis for boosting Moroccan-U.S. relations, U.S. official says


Settat – The political stability that Morocco enjoys is the basis for reinforcing the Moroccan-American economic relations, said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Suresh Kumar.

Suresh Kumar, who met Wednesday in Settat with students of National School for Commerce and management, said that Morocco’s political stability encourages the two countries to create a “safe and sound” economic area.

He told MAP news agency that Morocco, with its large-scale economic potentialities, is a market which “we trust and encourage collaborating with it.”


Morocco, US to boost cooperation


Casablanca – Morocco and the United States discussed, on Wednesday in Casablanca, means to promote cooperation at a meeting between Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Promotion Suresh Kumar and Chairman of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM), Mohamed Hourani.

The meeting was an opportunity to assess Moroccan-US partnership especially in the fields of renewable energy, information technology, basic infrastructure and transport.

“We are ready to help Morocco diversify its exports and work together with the CGEM to inform large companies of projects underway in Morocco,” said Kumar, who is leading a US commercial delegation, composed of representatives of 18 large American companies operating in various sectors.

Kumar is also Director General of the US and Foreign Commercial Service.

For his part, Hourani stressed the importance of promoting trade between the two countries, which are linked by deep friendly relations for decades.

He also highlighted investment and partnership opportunities in Morocco in several sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, infrastructure, industry, handicrafts and Communications and Information Technology.


IOPCF: Morocco – a key role within international maritime community


Marrakech – Morocco, thanks to its strategic geographic position, is well-positioned to play a key role within the international maritime community, said on Sunday Director by interim of the London-based International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPCF).

“IOPCF needs Morocco and Morocco needs IOPCF,” José Maura Barandiaran told MAP on the eve of the opening, in Marrakech, of the spring 2011 sessions of the IOPCF (March 29 – April 1).

He recalled that Morocco was chosen unanimously by the member states of this Fund to host the sessions, which will bring together several NGOs and international experts.

“Morocco, which plays a significant role in the region, is active within the international maritime bodies,” he added.

Barandiaran seized the opportunity to hail the efforts made by Morocco’s Ambassador to Great Britain Chrifa Lalla Joumala aiming to strengthen the role of the kingdom within international organizations.


Morocco, Qatar to boost cooperation in energy field

Rabat – Energy, Mining, water and Environment Minister Amina Benkhadra held, on Sunday in Rabat, talks with Qatari Minister of State for International Cooperation Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah on bilateral cooperation in the energy field.

During this meeting, Benkhadra briefed the Qatari official on Morocco’s strategy in the energy field, notably renewal energy and prospects of investment in this promising sector.

In a statement to the press at the end of talks, the Qatari Minister expressed his admiration for studies conducted by Morocco in the mining sector, which encourage investment in this area.

He said that the meeting tackled the practical means to activate the agreements signed between the two countries during the fourth Moroccan-Qatari High Joint Commission, held recently in Doha.


USA-Morocco trade exchange stood at over $2.5 bln in 2010 -USDC


Washington – Trade exchange between Morocco and the United States, which are bound by a free trade agreement (FTA), stood at more than 2.6 billion dollars in 2010, with Morocco’s exports to the US market rising by 54% since the entry into force of the agreement in 2006, the US Department of Commerce (USDC) said on Friday.

Bilateral trade has, thus, markedly risen in 2010 from a year earlier when it had stood at 2.1 billion dollars, according to figures released by the USDC.

Moroccan exports to the United States reached 685 million dollars in the year under review, posting a 46% over 2009, it said.

The two countries’ officials say the USA-Morocco free trade agreement, the unique such agreement signed by the USA in the entire Africa, attests to the excellent, special bilateral relations.

“We have a long history of friendship and partnership on almost every level, from economics to educational exchanges, from trade to development, and security,” Clinton said two days ago at a joint press conference with her Moroccan peer Taib Fassi Fihri.

Fassi Fihri, for his part, had emphasised the “long-standing, very fruitful” Moroccan-US ties.

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AfDB Supports Infrastructure Development in Morocco Signs €300 Million Loan and Grant Agreements with Government


The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the Government of Morocco, today signed six loan and grant agreements amounting to €303 million (3.4 billion dirham). Morocco’s Economy and Finance Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar and AfDB Regional Director, Nono Matondo Fundani co-chaired the signing ceremony in Rabat.

The agreements include a €300 million (3.4 billion dirham) investment loan to the national railway company—Office National des Chemins de Fer (ONCF)—to finance a major upgrade of the Tangier-Marrakech rail link.

The ONCF project is part of an ongoing national development strategy in the transport sector, which includes upgrading and modernizing infrastructure and transport services to increase Morocco’s economic competitiveness. The project will be implemented from 2011 to 2016 and aims to strengthen the rail infrastructure to meet the growing annual passenger and goods traffic on the Tangier-Marrakesh axis. Annual passenger traffic on the line is expected to increase from 16 million in 2010 to nearly 23.5 million from 2016.

The other agreements signed comprise:

• A € 678,000 (7.6-million dirham) grant to the National Ports Agency (PNA) to conduct an analytical and development study on the reinforcement and renovation of several ports in the country, notably Nador, Safi, Al Hoceima, Tangier, Casablanca and Agadir)

• A €558,000 (6.3-million dirham) grant to the Central Guarantee Fund (GCC) to strengthen the national guarantee system

• A € 576,000 (6.5-million dirham) grant to the Securities Ethics Council (CDVM) to strengthen the supervision and control of financial markets

• A €595,200 (6.7-million dirham) grant to the Directorate of Irrigation and development of agricultural land for irrigation infrastructure (DIAEA)

• A € 629,000 (7.1-million dirham) to the Department of Education to finance a study for the establishment of a development strategy in education and private training

To date, the African Development Bank has committed total of €8.6 billion in Morocco, equivalent to 96.3 billion dirhams. The Bank’s current active operations portfolio in the country is about €2 billion, equivalent to 22.4 billion dirhams. The portfolio is dominated by the infrastructure sector—including transport, energy and water and sanitation—and governance.


WB grants Morocco two loans of $342m


Washington – The World Bank’s board of directors approved, on Tuesday, two development policy loans (DPL) in the amount of 352 million dollars for Morocco, Bretton Woods announced.

The first loan, worth 205 million dollars, is aimed at supporting the implementation of Morocco’s Green Plan in order to improve local markets’ efficiency, the impact of projects aimed at small farmers, the services of the farming sector, water management and the planning of irrigation infrastructure.

The same source said the Green Plan constitutes an “ambitious” investment programme in agro-food industry and steps up a roadmap to carry out a series of systematic public sector reforms.

The second loan, worth 136.7 million dollars, is meant to enhance the effectiveness of urban traffic in Morocco’s big cities through a good governance of the transport sector and the improvement of urban transport services and infrastructure.

It will support the reform programme of urban transport and speed up its implementation.

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SG of IMO lauds Morocco’s achievements in sea transport, port infrastructure


Marrakech – Secretary General of International Maritime Organization (IMO), Efthimios Mitropoulos, hailed the noteworthy achieveme

Marrakech – Secretary General of International Maritime Organization (IMO), Efthimios Mitropoulos, hailed the noteworthy achievements made by Morocco in sea transport and port infrastructure

In a statement to the press following an audience granted to him by HM King Mohammed VI, on Saturday in Marrakech, Mitropoulos underlined Morocco’s active role as a regional hub in this area, which is mirrored by the multilateral agreement signed, on Thursday in Rabat, on the coordination of sea search and rescue activities in the northern and west African region.

This agreement is aimed at securing a better management of sea traffic, he added.

He said having visited Tangier’s sea surveilance center where he was informed about the crucial role of the center in relation with sea security at the regional level.

Mitropoulos said he was honored to be received by the Monarch at the end of his working visit to the Kingdom.


Morocco will continue spurring dynamic of Tourism sector, official says


London – Morocco will continue, with earnestness and serenity, spurring the dynamic of its tourism sector, leaving aside the crisis in several countries of the region, Tourism and Handicraft Minister Yassir Zenagui said on Tuesday in London.

Morocco is continuously enhancing its image as a hot tourist destination on the British market, Zenagui told MAP on the sidelines of a meeting attended by top businessmen.

In Britain as in Germany, among top countries sending tourists worldwide, efforts will go on to reinforce Morocco’s achievements, he said, noting that action plans were devised to use the Kingdom’s huge potential in such markets.

A marketing campaign and several events will be organized to boost the attractiveness of Moroccan products, Zenagui added.

The increase in the number of flights from the UK to Morocco will help give concrete substance to those objectives, he went on, stressing that the Vision 2020 and the tourism sector’s investment strategy show the development under way in Morocco.

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Strong social stability, unanimity over Monarchy make Morocco’s exception, Spanish expert


Madrid – The exception of Morocco in the Arab-Islamic world lies in the strong social stability and the unanimity over the Monarchy which distinguish Morocco, José Miguel Zaldo, chairman of the Hispanic-Moroccan Business Committee of the Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Organizations (CEOE) said

Miguel Zaldo told the “En Dialoguo” magazine that Morocco’s stability is due to the fact that the Monarchy, which has the full adherence of all components of society, is perceived by Moroccans as the “guarantor of stability in the country.”

Other elements contribute to the Moroccan exception mainly social stability owing to Morocco’s economic development over the past ten years, Miguel Zalod, also member of the arbitration court’s executive committee, added.

The Spanish expert, who is consellor to leading companies, highlighted that economic development and job creation, among other things, were impressive in the last decade and that Morocco’s GDP grew 5% thanks to efforts made by the State to promote sectors with substantial capital gain as the textile industry which accounts for 30% of Moroccan exports.

Morocco’s economic growth, which is the driving-force to ameliorate the population’s situation, does not exclude any region, he noted, recalling that major projects are carried out in the northern region, which used to have a jobless rate of 15%.

There is a large margin for free speech in Morocco in addition to democratic achievements, he said, underlining that Moroccans aspire to the improvement of their living conditions.

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Morocco, Turkey eager to bolster energy cooperation


Rabat – Morocco’s Energy, Mines, Water and Environment Minister Amina Benkhadra held, on Friday in Rabat, talks with Turkey’s Minister of State Hayati Yazici, on means to promote bilateral cooperation.

The meeting, held on the sidelines of the 9th Morocco-Turkey joint economic committee in Rabat, focused on ways to strengthen bilateral partnership and expertise exchange in terms of sustainable development and renewable energies.

Benkhadra said that Morocco’s energy resources mobilization is one of the Kingdom’s new energy strategy’s main goals as it enables to ensure supply and reduce energy dependence.

Benkhadra noted that Morocco could benefit from the Turkey’s experience in terms of hydroelectric power production, urging, in this regard, Turkish companies to take advantage of investment opportunities in Morocco in order to promote phosphate production.

For his part, the Turkish official hailed Morocco’s efforts in economic and social fields, voicing his country’s willingness to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the fields of renewable energy and mining.

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Morocco, Turkey should increase efforts to boost economic relations – Official says


Rabat – Morocco and Turkey should increase their efforts in order to boost their economic relations, Morocco’s Foreign Trade Minister Abdellatif Maazouz said on Wednesday in Rabat.

Speaking at the opening of the ninth Morocco-Turkey intergovernmental economic joint committee, Maazouz called for identifying mechanisms to promote trade and revitalize investments between the two countries as part of the 2006 free trade agreement.

He also urged for institutionalizing relations between the two countries’ investment promotion organizations in order to bolster cooperation in terms of investment.

The meeting, he said, is an occasion to take the advantage of the bilateral FTA in order to establish a sustainable partnership and boost trade and investment.

He pointed out that the momentum initiated by the FTA in terms of trade, which amounted to 1.2 billion dollars in 2010, reflects that the improvement of bilateral economic relations.


Morocco, World Bank sign economic cooperation agreement


Rabat – Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP) and the World Bank (WB) signed a cooperation agreement on studies relating to economic growth, employment and poverty.

Under this agreement, signed by the HCP’s Head Mohamed Lahlimi Alami and the WB director for the Middle East and North Africa Simon Gray, the WB will provide support to the HCP for developing the mechanisms to reduce poverty through growth and employment, identifying other sub-themes of research and jointly producing and publishing their results.

The agreement also provides for full access to necessary data has been granted to mixed WB-HCP teams, making the data avaible to both insitututions.

The WB expressed its readiness to help reinforce HCP’s management skills, particularly in software analysis of problems in economic growth, employment and poverty. This management training will adapt progressively to the needs identified by the HCP and the availability of WB resources.

Because the HCP’s scientific products are usually published in Arabic and French, they generally suffer from limited circulation in the English-speaking world. The WB will support the HCP in publishing its products in English to address this issue and expand their dissemination.

A coordination committee will be formed to develop joint programs of action and to monitor their execution. The committee will meet twice a year and whenever necessary to evaluate undertakings and opportunities to extend its scope to additional topics of interest to both institutions.

Valid for a three-year period and of tacit renewal, the agreement does not necessarily imply a financial obligation between both institutions for support, except in specific cases in projects agreed upon by both parties.

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EU’s contribution to projects in Morocco amounted to 1.8 billion dirhams in 2010, European diplomat says


Casablanca – The EU’s contribution to the large-scale projects in Morocco, that have benefited the Moroccan citizens, amounted to 1.8 billion dirhams in 2010, said Thursday in Casablanca head of the EU’s delegation in Rabat, Ambassador Eneko Landaburu.

Landaburu said that this support has benefited the major reforms in Morocco in many fields, adding that many crucial projects have been launched as part of bilateral cooperation, including solidarity-based agriculture, the opening up of the rural areas and the fight against illetracy, pollution and poverty.

A new 2-billion dirham cooperation programme for the period of 2011-2013 was inked in July 2010, he reacalled, underlining that Morocco remains among the neighbouring countries which have benefited much from financial support.

He also highlighted that bilateral cooperation is positive noting that the two parties made great progress in terms of political dialogue and consultations.

The UE deems that Morocco’s autonomy plan “remains a crucial proposition that should be taken into consideration,” he said.

Landaburu added that an UN-sponsored political agreement between all concerned parties is the solution to settle the Sahara conflict.


Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership – €420 Million in Morocco


Brussels – The Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) contributed in 2010 with 420 million euros in loans to finance the projects of Tanger-Med and Casablanca-Tadla Azilal highway, the European Investment Bank (EIB) said.

The Tanger-Med’s extension project, dubbed “Tanger Med II”, required an investment of 200 million euros.

This project is aimed at carrying out an industrial and commercial port that would play an avant-garde role regarding sea trade with Europe, the Bank said.

The Tanger Med II is expected to operate 8 million containers thanks to two new container terminals with a total length of 2,800 m. It will spur dynamic of Morocco’s northern provinces and create an additional 5,000 direct jobs, it added.

As for the “Morocco VII Highway” which cost 220 million euros, it is related to financing 172 km between Casablanca and Tadla-Azilal’s south-eastern region.


Prime Minister Commends Qatar – Morocco Ties


Doha, February 23 (QNA) – HE the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani commended the Qatar- Morocco ties and said it is an embodiment of political will expressed by HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and HM King Mohammed VI, of the Kingdom of Morocco to work towards enhancing and deepening the ties of fraternity between the two countries in order to achieve the common goals and a desire to strengthen bilateral ties existing between them in all fields .

In remarks, following the fourth session of the Qatari-Moroccan Higher Joint Committee this evening, HE the Premier also welcomed the visit by the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Morocco Abbas El Fassi and his accompanying delegation, stressing the importance of the agreements which have been signed by the two sides. HE the Premier and Foreign Minister referred to the establishment of a Qatari- Moroccan partnership for the investment projects in the fields of economy, energy and industry.

For his part, the Moroccan Premier praised Moroccan – Qatari ties and affirmed the existence of bilateral cooperation in various fields.. Referring to the willingness to fully cooperate with Qatar.. He said that the conditions are now ripe for us to joint investments.

Qatari – Moroccan Joint Higher Committee Holds Meeting

The Qatari – Moroccan Joint Higher Committee held its fourth session at the Emiri Diwan this evening, under chaired by HE the Prime Minister and Foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani and Prime Minister of Kingdom of Morocco Abbas El Fassi. Earlier, HE the Premier and Foreign Minister held talks with Prime Minister of Morocco on ties between the two brotherly countries and ways of enhancing them in various fields and reviewed a number of current political issues in the region.

Then, the two sides signed the minutes of the fourth session of the Joint Higher Committee, where it was signed for the Qatari side by HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al-Thani, and for the Moroccan side by Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi.

The two sides also signed a set of agreements, programs and memoranda of understanding and draft agreements namely:

1 – a letter of intent on cooperation in the field of chemical fertilizers industries between the Ministry of Energy and Industry of Qatar and the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Water and Environment in the Kingdom of Morocco.

2 – Agreement on mutual administrative assistance to enable the proper application of customs law in order to prevent, investigate and combat crimes (violations of customs) between the State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Morocco.

3 – Executive Program for the agreement on the scientific and technical cooperation in the field of specifications and standards and quality control between the State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Morocco.

4 – Protocol on Cultural Cooperation in the field of restoration of castles, forts, archaeological sites and historical monuments in Qatar between the Government of the State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Morocco.

5 – Agreement between the Government of the State of Qatar and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco concerning the exemption of nationals of the two countries in possession of diplomatic passports and special service from the requirement to obtain a visa.

6 – Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Qatar Central Bank (QCB) and Bank Al-Maghrib.

7 – Memorandum of Understanding (MoU0 between the Qatar Olympic Committee as representative for the sports sector in Qatar and the Ministry of Youth and Sports in the Kingdom of Morocco in the field of sport.

8 – The Executive Program III for the culture and arts agreement in the field of culture, arts and heritage between the Government of the State of Qatar and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco for the years / 2011 – 2012 – 2013 /.

9 – The Fifth executive program of agreement in education, culture and technical fields between the Government of the State of Qatar and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco for the academic years 2010-2011, and 2011-2012, and 2012 – 2013.

10- The third executive program of the agreement on media cooperation between the Government of the State of Qatar and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco for the years 2011 – 2012 – 2013 .

The agreements and memoranda of understanding were signed for the Qatari side by HE Minister of Energy and Industry Mohammad bin Saleh Al Sada,HE Minister of Economy and Finance Yousuf Hussein Kamal, HE Minister of State for International Cooperation Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah, and HE Governor of Qatar Central Bank (QCB) Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani.

Signing for the Qatari side also were HE Secretary General of Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) Sheikh Saud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, HE Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage Dr. Hamad bin Abdul Aziz al- Kuwari, HE Minister of Education and Higher Education and Secretary General of the Supreme Education Council (SEC) Saad bin Ibrahim Al Mahmoud as well as Director of the Arab Affairs Dept. at the Foreign Ministry Ibrahim Abdul Aziz Sahlawi.

On the Moroccan side, the agreements and MoUs were signed by Minister of Energy and Mines, Water and Environment Amina bin Khadra, His Foreign Trade Minister Abdellatif Mazuz, Minister of Tourism, and Traditional Industries Yasser Alzenaki and Latifa Akherbach, Secretary of State to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

Later, HE the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister hosted a dinner banquet in honor of the Moroccan Prime Minister and his accompanying delegation.

Moroccan Premier Leaves Doha

Morocco’s Prime Minister Abbas Al Fassi left Doha this evening, ending an official visit to Qatar. The Moroccan Premier was seen off on departure by HE Minister of State for International Cooperation Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, Chief of HE the Premier’s Protocol Ahmed Jassim Al Mulla, HE Qatar’s Ambassador to Morocco Saqr Mubarak Al Mansouri and Moroccan Ambassador to Qatar Abdel Azim Tber. (QNA)

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Morocco wins Friendship Prize at 15th East Mediterranean Tourism fair in Istanbul


Istanbul – The Friendship Prize of 15th East Mediterranean Tourism and Travel international exhibition (EMITT) was awarded to Morocco and Tunisia, on Sunday, during the event’s closing ceremony

The100 square-meter Moroccan stand was located in a strategic location which helped attract a large number of visitors ranging from, professionals, journalists, tourists as well as Turkish officials including Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Günay.

In addition to the national tourism office (ONMT) and Morocco’s flag carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM), the Kingdom’s stand featured the participation of renowned private operators and travel agencies.

The famous Moroccan Henna fascinated most visitors. “The Nakacha”,Hiba, saw her art flocked into by the fair’s visitors. Both men and women were jostling to get sophisticated designs of her henna tattoos as a souvenir of Morocco, before tasting Moroccan mint tea and traditional cakes.

The Moroccan participation in the international tourism fair, held on February 10-13, is in line with efforts undertaken by the kingdom to attract more Turkish tourists.

“We are here to explore the Turkish tourism market,” ONMT’s Middle East and Asia Director Taibi Khattab told MAP, adding that Morocco puts emphasis on promoting business tourism, increasing the number of flights and programming more hotels and cities by travel agencies.

Out of the 10 million Turkish tourists travelling abroad, 18,000 visited Morocco in 2010.


Economic reforms lead Morocco to Advanced Status in relations with EU


Rabat – Thanks to its multiple reforms, Morocco obtained an “Advanced Status” in its relations with the EU, Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri said.

Morocco signed a series of agreements to attract more foreign investments, bolster productivity, generate job opportunities and boost exports, The Minister said at a special TV program on “Morocco’s Foreign Relations: Achievement and Challenges,” on Monday by Al Oula channel on Monday.

Fassi Fihri noted the great interest shown by many countries to reinforce their economic relations with Morocco, recalling that the Kingdom and Canada recently launched free trade agreement negotiations.

Concerning Africa, Fassi Fihri underscored that Morocco signed cooperation agreements with no less than forty African countries in order to foster human and economic development.

In this respect, he recalled that HM the king Mohammed VI paid 20 visits to 13 African countries with the aim to reinforce economic cooperation with these countries and pave the way for Moroccan enterprises operating in fields such as telecommunications and banking to promote their activities in Africa.


Saudi Arabia encouraging joint investment in Morocco


Morocco (Rabat) – Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faycal underlined the need for Morocco and Saudi Arabia to create a climate propitious for the private sector to benefit from investment opportunities, create jobs and improve the living conditions of the two countries’ peoples.

In a speech at the opening of 11th Moroccan-Saudi Joint Commission, co-chaired by Prince Saud Al Faycal and his Moroccan counterpart Taïb Fassi Fihri, the Saudi Minister said the private sector is the cornerstone of development.

This meeting takes great interest in the vision of Moroccan and Saudi businessmen regarding the promotion of trade and investment between the two kingdoms, he added.

He hoped that this Joint Commission would be an occasion to exchange viewpoints and proposals on the main obstacles hindering bilateral trade and investment.

He proposed holding regular instead of yearly meetings between the presidents of the preparatory commission and the Moroccan-Saudi businessmen council to follow up the implementation of recommendations and bilateral agreements and submit their reports to the chairmen of the Joint Commission.

The holding of the Moroccan-Saudi Joint Commission, with the participation of the private sector, mirrors the solidity of ties between the two countries and the two brotherly peoples, Prince Saud Al Faycal noted.

He commended the “distinguished political relations between the two kingdoms, marked by the consistency of stances, and the continued coordination and consultations at all levels to serve bilateral relations and the causes of the Arab and Islamic Umma, and achieve security and stability in our countries.”

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Saudi Arabia, Morocco launch business council in Rabat


Morocco (Rabat) – The Moroccan-Saudi business council opened in Rabat as part of the 11th Moroccan-Saudi joint commission.

The meeting aims to strengthen the role of the Moroccan and Saudi businessmen with a view to further boosting the cooperation between the two countries, spurring on investment opportunities and promoting bilateral partnership through suggesting recommendations to the Moroccan-Saudi joint commission, which will meet next Thursday at the ministerial level.

Speaking at the meeting, Secretary General of Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Youssef El Amrani applauded the Moroccan-Saudi privileged relations and the constant bilateral political dialogue.

He also underlined that the businessmen’s participation reflects that the two countries take crucial steps on the way to promote their relations.

This involvement meets the two countries’ inspiration aiming at further boosting bilateral trade and economic exchanges and represents an added value to strengthen these strategic relations.

Under-Secretary for Economic, Cultural Affairs at the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry Yusuf bin Tarrad al-Sadoun voiced optimism about the results of the next Moroccan-Saudi joint commission.

He also voiced Saudi strong will to promote and diversify investment and trade in order to include several sectors.

The meeting will examine the various obstacles undermining trade and investment between the two Arab countries, chairman of the Moroccan-Saudi business council Adil Kâaki.


Morocco forecasts 4.6% economic growth in 2011, HCP


Casablanca – Morocco’s economic growth is likely to grow 4.6% in 2011, the Head of the High Planning Commission, Mohamed Lahlimi, said on Wednesday.

Lahlimi, who was presenting the 2011 forecasts, said that these forecasts took consideration the provisions of the 2011 finance bill notably the 21.4% increase in public administration investments and a 7% wage bill rise in addition to financial measures taken to boost small and medium enterprises.

Cereal production is seen at 70 million quintals during the 2010-2011 crop year following considerable rainfall, he said.

Non-farm growth, which posted a decrease in 2010 due to the financial crisis, will increase notably in the services sector amid a recovery of global economy.

In this respect, Lahlimi said external demand is expected to jump 6% in 2011. Morocco’s budget deficit is forecasted to shrink from 4.2% in 2010 to 3.6% in 2011, while foreign exchange deficit is seen to rise to 3.6% of GDP in 2011 from 2.7% in 2010, Lahlimi said.


Financial commitments relating to projects of MCA-Morocco program reached $ 410 million, PM


Rabat – Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi said, on Monday in Rabat, that the financial commitments relating to the projects of MCA-Morocco program (Millenium Challenge Account) reached some 410 million dollars during the three first years, that is 59% of the total budget of the Compact, which amounts to 697.5 million dollars.

Speaking at the 7th strategic Advisory Board of the Partnership Agency for Progress (APP), El Fassi emphasized the importance of this program with regard to regions and social groups targeted, the scale of investments and the nature of the projects implemented.

The achievements made include the planting of 15,000 ha of fruit trees, mainly olive trees, the continuation of irrigation works on an area of 18,000 hectares covering particularly the oasis zones and perimeters of small and medium irrigations.

In the area of fisheries, infrastructure works of the Tan-Tan port and the wholesale fish market in Beni Mellal were launched, and two unloading stations were inaugurated in Salé and Tifnit.

He also recalled the establishment of 150 units equipped with insulated boxes in Oujda that directly contribute to improving incomes of beneficiaries.

As part of the Craft Industry and Medina of Fez program, he said, the international architectural competition was organized for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the the Lalla Ydouna place, an event that witnessed great success in terms of the number of participants representing several countries.

This Moroccan-American partnership program also concerned functional literacy and vocational training in the areas of craft industry, fisheries and agriculture, in addition to training programs on entrepreneurship.

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Chatham House: Morocco’s strategy in energy field outlined in London


London – Energy, Mining, Water and Environment Minister Amina Benkhadra outlined, on Monday in London, Morocco’s strategy in the energy field.

“We are changing our methods of production and consumption, and initiating reforms in order to establish a new energy system,” said Benkhadra who was speaking at a conference, held at the Royal Institute of International Affairs on investment opportunities in the energy sector in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The Minister recalled the adoption in March 2009 of the new national strategy in the energy field.

As part of this strategy, she added, the share of oil in consumption will be reduced to 44% in 2020, compared to 61% currently.

The share of renewable energies will be increased from 2% in 2008 to 12% in 2020 and to over 20% in 2030, Benkhadra noted.

A comprehensive solar energy program, with a capacity of 2000 MW will be completed in 2020 at five sites, the Minister said, adding that the overall cost of the project is estimated at about 9 billion dollars.

She also recalled the setting up of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy to oversee the implementation of solar energy project.

The Minister presented the development program for wind power, worth $ 3.5 billion dollars.

Thanks to its geographical position, the Minister said, Morocco is becoming an “important hub” for strengthening exchanges between the Mediterranean countries.


Morocco, Turkey seek to revitalize joint business council


Ankara – The means to reinvigorate the Moroccan-Turkish Business Council in a way that further boosts cooperation relations between business men from both countries were discussed recently in Ankara.

This came during a meeting between Morocco’s Ambassador to Ankara and members of the Turkish Foreign Trade Council.

During the meeting, the two parties examined the means to give a fresh impetus to the Moroccan-Turkish Business Council activities with a view to bolstering economic relations between the two countries, which are bound by a Free Trade Agreement.

On this occasion, the two sides drafted a collaboration agenda providing for developing economic exchange and ensuring a better coordination through the joint Business Council.

They also called for taking advantage of the economic dynamism enjoyed in both countries in order to further foster business cooperation.

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Turkish group ‘Tekfen’ will construct in Morocco a pipeline to transport phosphate


Istanbul – Turkish group “Tekfen” won the contract for the construction of a pipeline to transport phosphate and two plants to produce Diammonium for Moroccan phosphate group “Office Chérifien des phosphates” (OCP), worth $ 630 million.

The Turkish group said it had signed last week in Casablanca the agreements on the future pipeline (240 km for 460 million dollars) and two plants, which have a capacity of 850,000 tons each and whose construction will require 170 million dollars.

The pipeline will be completed in April 2013 while the two plants will be ready in June 2012, ‘Tekfen Holding’ CEO Erhan Oner was quoted by Turkish daily “Hurriyet Daily News” as saying.

The Turkish Holding was competing with five other international companies, notably French and Indian ones, for these two projects, which are part of a large-scale investment program of the OCP, worth 7 billion dollars over 7 years.

According to the OCP, the future pipeline, which will have a capacity of 44 MT/year, is likely to lower transportation costs from mine to port, and significantly reduce energy consumption and environmental impacts resulting from this transport.


Western Sahara talks make modest headway


The latest round of the informal Western Sahara talks ended with some “concrete” ideas to resolve the conflict, according to UN envoy Christopher Ross.

The fourth round of unofficial, UN-brokered negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario concluded on a positive note Saturday (December 18th). The three-day talks in Manhasset, New York were also attended by observers Algeria and Mauritania.

“Parties got involved in in-depth negotiations, based on new approaches so as to instil new dynamism in the series of negotiations in 2011, through holding regular meetings,” UN Western Sahara Envoy Christopher Ross said.

He added that the parties submitted some concrete ideas, which will be developed over the coming two rounds of unofficial negotiations on January 21st-22nd and in March, 2011. Still, the UN official noted that “each party continues to reject the proposal of the other as a sole basis for future negotiations”.

“Morocco underlined its full readiness to give a fresh chance for progress through creative techniques,” said Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri.

According to the minister, the talks touched on “the means available through negotiations to listen to those who represent the Sahara residents, particularly that the Polisario does not represent the Sahara residents, but only those held up in camps on Algerian lands, as well as those who can help in the negotiations so as reach a solution that warrants respecting the Moroccan sovereignty.”

Fassi Fihri added that the talks also dealt with “the fact that the Special Commissioner must not solely engage in negotiations rounds, but must be more dynamic by making numerous trips across the region so as to listen to the opinions of everyone who can assist in the process. Finally, it is equally important to consider how the participation of neighbouring countries, such as Algeria and Mauritania, can be activated and promoted.”

“We are searching for a solution in pursuit of the best interest of the Maghreb region as a whole,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Khadad, Polisario Co-ordinator to the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) said on Sunday (December 19th) that the new round of talks gave an impetus to “the scheduling of the biggest number of meetings in an attempt to fast-track negotiations, without detriment to the core of the issue, namely ending occupation, a problem to which the solution lies in the resolutions of the Security Council that grants the Saharan people the right to self-determination.”

“The problem is the lack of trust. As long as Morocco is pursuing its practices of persecution and detention and denying NGOs and the press access to the Sahara region, it is impossible for there to be a convenient atmosphere of trust. As such, discussions also tackled issued related to providing an atmosphere of real trust between both parties,” Khadad added.

According to the Polisario representative, meetings scheduled for January and March will “follow in the same course. Topics related to creating an atmosphere of trust will be discussed so as to facilitate the mission of the United Nations Special Commissioner for the Western Sahara.”

For her part, Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said during her visit to Paris on December 18th that France and Spain support the unofficial talks that were resumed in New York under the UN supervision, in an attempt to “reach a just and durable solution that is acceptable to both parties” and that “both countries can help create an atmosphere of confidence in that direction”.

The last round of Western Sahara talks ended on November 9th and coincided with deadly clashes in Laâyoune.


Morocco Leading Growth in North Africa

17 /12/ 2010

Thanks to heavy spending on infrastructure, Morocco managed to post “levels of growth that are the envy of many of its neighbours”, Irish daily “The Irish Times” said.

Investing in big infrastructure projects spared Morocco the worst of the global crisis, allowing it to post levels of growth that are the envy of many of its neighbours, the paper underlined.

“The Irish Times” shed light on Morocco’s investments in the field of energy, noting that “in 1996, just 22% of all rural homes in the country had electricity; today, after years of heavy state investment, the figure is 96.5%”.

The investments’ effect “has been revolutionary,” the paper underscored, highlighting Morocco’s efforts in terms of promoting renewable energy.

In this respect, it pointed out that “in June, the largest wind park in Africa opened near the northern city of Tangiers”, stressing that this project is “the most visible marker of the country’s strategic decision to wean itself off foreign energy and push its economy on through investing in big projects”.

With “the resources it has in abundance,” namely sun, wind and water, Morocco “plans to raise the share of renewable energy in its total output to 42% by 2020”, the paper added.

Recalling the global economic crisis’ impact on some sectors, the paper underlined that this impact has “largely been offset by good harvests, investment in infrastructure and a resilient banking system”.


BA’s return to Morocco could boost property market -UK website


London – Marrakech property market could be boosted by BA flightsBritish Airways (BA) decision to start flights from London to Marrakech in March next year, as part of planned network expansion, the UK website said.

The website noted that a growing number of Brits have purchased homes in Morocco, including properties in Marrakech, “already a highly popular tourist destination.”

It recalled that BA has identified Marrakech as its top destination of 2011, in acknowledgement of the city’s potential for growth in the tourism sector.

According to the website, BA reported that early response to the launch of the new route to Marrakech “has been incredible.”

In BA ranking of destinations, Marrakech outclassed popular ones such as San Diego, New York, St Kitts & Nevis, Puerto Rico, Maldives, Japan, Las Vegas, Mauritius and St Lucia.

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Work begins on Abu Dhabi-funded rail project in Morocco


Construction has begun on an Abu Dhabi-funded $100m high speed rail project in Morocco, set to connect the cities of Casablanca and Tangier.

Building works on the project, which was financed by two loans of around $100m from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), have been formally opened by Morocco’s King Mohammed.

The ceremony also saw the signing of the loan agreement by Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, acting director general of ADFD and Mohammed Rabie Al Khalie, director general of the National Railway Bureau in Morocco.

Established in 1971, the state-backed ADFD finances projects in developing countries. It has been involved in partnership with public and private companies in 53 countries and has awarded funding of around $3.4bn to date.


Morocco, US – Significant Growth in Trade Exchanges

10 /12/ 2010

Washington – Trade exchanges between the United States and Morocco, bound by a free trade agreement, witnessed “a significant growth” over the past few years, American Assistant Secretary for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs José W. Fernandez said on Thursday in Washington.

The US official, who was speaking at a press conference following his tour in the Maghreb region, said that bilateral trade ties could be further boosted, highlighting the business opportunities offered by Morocco and the United States.

Fernandez called for bringing the two countries’ businessmen closer as part of the US-North Africa partnership for economic opportunity which was recently launched.

Since the enforcement of the free trade agreement in 2006, the volume of trade exchanges between Morocco and the US increased by around 150% to reach 2.3 billion

dollars in 2008.

Morocco’s exports to the US rose by 99%, over the same period, to 879 billion dollars, according to figures provided by the US Department of Commerce.

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Gulf SWFs back Morocco tourism fund

1/12/ 2010

MARRAKESH, Morocco (Reuters) – Three Gulf Arab sovereign wealth funds and UAE-based property developer Al Maabar have raised 15 billion dirhams for a tourism fund that aims to put Morrocco among the world’s top 20 destinations.

Omar Bennani, who heads state-controlled Moroccan Touristic Engineering Company (SMIT), said the four investors were Bahrain’s Mumtalakat, the Kuwaiti Investment Authority (KIA), Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Al Maabar of the United Arab Emirates.

“The contribution of the four partners is of at least 15 billion dirhams … They are committed to support us throughout the next 10 years,” Bennani told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

He said the investors did not want their individual contributions to the Moroccan government-backed fund be made public. The fund aims to attract 100 billion dirhams in investment.

The fund will finance resort developments in Morocco that aim to more than double tourism receipts to 150 billion dirhams by 2020.

Bennani was speaking after the four sovereign wealth funds signed partnership agreements with Moroccan authorities.

Tourism Minister Yassir Znagui told reporters the Moroccan government would contribute 15 billion dirhams to the new fund.

Znagui said Moroccan authorities could consider bond issues to raise about another 70 billion dirhams.

“We will run an international roadshow to raise the rest of the money required by the new fund,” Znagui said in Marrakesh.

He did not however specify the identity of the potential issuer.

“We are encouraged by our recent success through the eurobond issue,” Znagui said.

Morocco sold a 10-year 1 billion euro-denominated bond in September. The issue was priced at 200 basis points over mid-swaps, at the tight end of yield guidance.

After the issue — which was Morocco’s biggest ever — Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar said the country is looking to issue Eurobonds more frequently.

Demand has been soaring for emerging market debt in recent months as the sector is relatively stable and offers high yields compared with the developed world.

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US: Morocco is a successful economic story

26 /11/  2010

Washington – Morocco is, in many ways, a “success story” economically, said Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs, José W. Fernandez, underlining that he was “very much impressed” by the economic growth achieved in the last few years and the opportunities that the country offers.

“Morocco is, in many ways, a success story economically,” the American official told MAP in an interview, highlighting Renault Nissan’s announcement of a billion dollar investment project in Tangiers to produce cars which will be exported to Europe.

Proximity to Europe was among the reasons that motivated the French firm’s choice, as they “believed the infrastructure would be built and would be able to support this investment,” underlined Fernandez, who will pay a visit to Morocco, on December 6-7, as a part of a Maghreb tour.

Fernandez, who attended the World Economic Forum, held in Marrakech on October 26-28, underscored that “liberalization helped Morocco to compete,” noting that the kingdom enjoys “a great potential to export not just to the US but to Europe as well.”

American investors would like to see better relations between Morocco and the US, as they believe there are great opportunities, he stressed, adding that he “would like to see more trade between Morocco and the USA.”

Since the Free Trade Agreement came into effect in 2006, economic trade between Morocco and the US posted a 150% increase, reaching 2.3 billion dollars.

In addition to Morocco, the American official will visit Libya, Tunisia and Algeria, where he will take part in a summit on the US-Maghreb entrepreneurship, the US Department of State announced on Wednesday.

This tour aims to “promote entrepreneurship and deepen economic relations with the Maghreb,” the same source maintained.


Moroccan British Business Council Reinforcing Cooperation

26 /11/ 2010

London – The Moroccan-British business council opened in London a meeting to explore new avenues for reinforcing co-operation ties between Morocco and the United Kingdom.

The opening of this session was marked by the presence of Morocco’s ambassador to Great Britain, Chrifa Lalla Joumala Alaoui, and the British ambassador to Morocco, Tim Morris.

Sectors such as car industry, aeronautics and agriculture will be in the spotlight in this meeting of the council, co-presided by Mustapha Terrab, the CEO of Morocco’s Office Chérifien des Phosphates, and Robert Gray.

Many Moroccan and British officials and businessmen take part in this meeting, held at a time when bilateral economic cooperation is witnessing a quantum leap, with British companies increasingly based in Morocco and bilateral trade growing.

New business opportunities are being explored in such promising sectors as tourism, infrastructure, agri-food industry financial services, education and aeronautics.

The United Kingdom is currently the third customer and third supplier of Morocco, which is an increasingly favourite business destination for Britons.

According to figures released recently, trade between the two countries has trebled over the past ten years.

Founded in October 2001 as part of a partnership between the Federation of Moroccan Companies (CGEM) and its British counterpart CBI, the Moroccan-British business council aims to promote relations between the two countries’ business communities and enhance bilateral trade.


Morocco, GB sign MoU to boost cooperation in aerospace industry


London – British group ADS, specializing in aerospace, defense and security and Moroccan industrial Aerospace group (GIMAS) signed, on Wednesday in London, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen bilateral cooperation relations.

Signed in the presence of Morocco’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Chrifa Lalla Joumala Alaoui and British ambassador to Morocco, Tim Morris, the MoU provides for establishing joint initiatives between the two groups and strengthening exchanges in this strategic area.

The agreement was signed on the occasion of the Moroccan-British business council, which opened today in London.

Aeronautics is one of the most promising sectors for economic and trade cooperation between Morocco and the United Kingdom, ADS Managing Director Graham Chisnall told MAP on the sidelines of the MoU’s signing.

Chisnall noted that several factors have contributed to strengthening cooperation with Morocco, including its geographical position as well as the government’s support to economic activity and infrastructure.

GIMAS, which includes about 100 companies operating in aeronautics, aims to consolidate the competitiveness of the Moroccan aeronautics base at the international level.

ADS includes nearly 850 companies and has subsidiaries in Britain, France and India. It is meant to strengthen the position of British companies in the field of the aerospace industry, defense and global security.


Morocco, IDB sign $51.7mln-agreements to finance rural electrification project


Rabat – Morocco and the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) inked, on Tuesday in Rabat, several agreements worth 51.7 million dollars (around 410 million dirhams) to finance the last phase of the rural electrification program.

The deals were concluded by Economy Minister Salaheddine Mezouar and IDB’s Chairman Ahmed Mohamed Ali. The signing ceremony was attended mainly by Energy Minister Amina Benkhadra and head of Morocco’s electricity facility (ONE) Ali Fassi Fihri.

On this occasion, Mezouar lauded the outstanding role played by the IDB in promoting Morocco’s socio-economic development and spurring its economic growth.

He also stressed that the Bank is a key-partner of Morocco, mainly in terms of carrying out social development programs, including the rural electrification program.

The IDB’s chairman hailed the excellent relations between the north African country and the Bank, underlining the importance of partnership with the ONE which contributed to the rural electrification program in Senegal, thus bolstering Morocco’s crucial role in backing the development of the IDB’s Sub-Saharan member states.

Since 1975, the funding of the Islamic Development Bank for Morocco totaled some 31 billion dirhams (3.8 billion dollars), invested notably in the sectors of agriculture, irrigation, rural electrification and drinking water.


Morocco, EU – € 200 million agreement to finance Tanger Med Port Complex

12 /11/ 2010

Morocco (Tangier) – The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Tanger Med Special Agency (TMSA) signed a 200-million Euro loan agreement to finance the extension works of the Tanger Med Port Complex, reports Global Arab Network according to MAP.

The agreement was signed by the president of TMSA, Taoufiq Ibrahimi, and the Vice President of The European Investment Bank in charge of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), Philippe de Fontaine.

It aims to provide financial support to the construction of Tanger Med II, through a long-term loan.

With the Tanger Med II port, the container handling capacity of the Tanger Med Complex will rise from 3 to 8 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit), through notably the construction of two new container terminals (TC3 and TC4), a communiqué of the EIB said.

Upon completion, the new port will create 5000 additional direct jobs and 20,000 indirect ones.

The project will be built in line with the recommendations of the environmental impact studies conducted by TMSA and approved by the EIB, which included them in the loan’s terms, the same source indicated.


British Ambassador: Morocco is making great efforts in economic development

24 /10/ 2010

Morocco (Rabat) – The British Ambassador in Rabat, Timothy Morris, has said his country is impressed by Morocco’s efforts in the area of economic development, expressing the UK’s willingness to benefit from the investment opportunities the Kingdom of Morocco has to offer.

“Morocco is making great efforts in the area of economic development, and we are very impressed by these efforts,” Morris said in an interview with MAP on Saturday.

The diplomat added that the two countries have “historical, very strong and very close political relations, but the major challenge remains to promote economic ties at the level of trade and investments.”

The two countries’ Foreign Ministries have a very good dialogue which enables to address several international issues of shared interest, especially the Mideast peace process, development in Africa, security and human rights in the world, said Morris, who noted that the two governments tackle other areas of cooperation, particularly the economic aspect.

The Moroccan government and private sector seek to enhance bilateral trade, he said, commending Morocco’s actions to present the British economic operators with the reality of the national economy.

In this regard, he recalled the first meeting held, last June in London, on trade between Morocco and the United Kingdom, praising the efforts made by Morocco’s ambassador to the UK, Chrifa Lalla Joumala Alaoui, to promote the bilateral economic cooperation.

He also hailed the Moroccan-British business council to present the Britons with the key sectors of the Moroccan economy and propose “practical ideas” to enhance the bilateral economic cooperation.

The diplomat insisted that the British companies take interest in many sectors in Morocco, including renewable energies and education, notably higher education through cooperation between the two countries’ universities.

He recalled, in this respect, that the British group International Power won a contract to set up one of the greatest wind farms in the southern city of Tarfaya.

The English operators may also be interested in investing in car industry and aeronautics, two sectors that “open up good avenues for Morocco,” he said, pointing out that the British market is open to the Moroccan products, especially the agricultural ones.”

In the field of tourism, the diplomat called for some impediments to investments in this field to be overcome, particularly the issue of real estate.

He expressed his country’s willingness to support Morocco to carry out the mega-project of the Casablanca financial hub.

On the advanced status granted by the European Union to Morocco, Morris said “as a member of the European Union, we are aware that this advanced status will make it possible to bring the two sides closer to each other.”

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Kuwait: Moroccan delegation promotes investment projects

21/10/ 2010

A Moroccan delegation presented leading Kuwaiti entrepreneurs on Thursday with a list of prospected investment projects in their country.

The delegation, headed by Minister of Commerce Ahmad Al-Chami and including 17 businessmen, promoted the ventures at a meeting with local investors at the headquarters of the Kuwait Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said Dherar Al-Ghanem, member of the chamber board in a statement. He also indicated that the proposed enterprises were in the banking, investment, industrial, infrastructural, real-estate and tourist sectors.

Al-Ghanem expressed satisfaction at the current level of trade and economic cooperation between Kuwait and Morocco, in the shadow of marked development in the country’s fields of agriculture, industries, services and tourism.

Morocco has attracted European investments in various sectors, namely IN small industries, he said, also indicating at recently-enacted legislations that encouraged the foreign businessmen.

For his part, Chami indicated at many lucrative investment opportunities; in textiles, leather and aircraft hardware.

Moreover, Morocco is planning to build five new towns near the capital Rabat, he said, noting that such mega ventures would create multiple and various investment opportunities. “We are also planning to build a port in the Mediterranean … as well as a metro in addition to major projects in renewable energy,” he added.

More than three million tourists come to the country every year, he said, adding that this figure was projected to soar to nine million in the future.


Parliament Member: U.S. Investors Should Consider Morocco

14 / 10 /2010

Morocco is a stable, moderate Muslim country with enormous trade potential for the United States, a member of its parliament, Mbarka Bouaida, told GlobalAtlanta on a recent visit to Atlanta.

“I think America believes in Morocco as a model for the region,” she said. “I think Morocco is important because of its political stability, because of its economic growth.”

She pointed out that the United States and Morocco have a long friendship. In 1777, Morocco was one of the first countries in the world to recognize the U.S. It currently has a free-trade agreement with the U.S.

Tourism, renewable energy and highway construction are a few promising areas for U.S. investment, said Ms. Bouaida, 35, who was elected in 2007 to Parliament, becoming its youngest member. In 2009, she became chair of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, National Defense and Religious Affairs committee.

Morocco is a constitutional monarchy, with a population of 31 million. Its population is young, with 28.7 percent of the citizens aged 14 and under.

The country is pushing for the production of more renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, in the Sahara Desert, said Ms. Bouaida.

“The Sahara is one of the best platforms to develop solar energy,” she said. “We have a lot of wind, even in the Sahara. I think for American investors, we can collaborate together.”

Her own election to parliament  is proof that women in Morocco enjoy more freedoms than in some other Muslim countries, said Ms. Bouaida.

“We can’t really develop our country or modernize our country without women,” she said. “We are a very moderate country.”

Ms. Bouaida was in Atlanta to attend the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation‘s Africa Policy Forum. Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is the Sullivan Foundation’s board chair.

Encouraging closer ties between the Southeast U.S. and Morocco, Ms. Bouaida endorsed a direct flight between Atlanta and Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city.

“We can work on it,” she said. “I think it’s a great idea. We have seen here [in Atlanta] a lot of interest in developing relationships with Morocco.”

Joining Ms. Bouaida at the four-day event were Mr. Young; Susan D. Page, U.S. deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of African Affairs; Gen. William “Kip” Ward, commander of U.S. AFRICOM, as well as several African ministers, international NGO leaders, and representatives from U.S. corporations doing business in Africa.


Morocco – More visitors and investments into tourism industry

08 /10/ 2010

A combination of growing visitor arrivals and a cash infusion into travel and accommodation infrastructure is rounding out a successful year for Morocco’s tourism industry.

More than 9m tourists are expected in 2010, 6% higher than in 2009 but below a target of 10 million set before the global financial crisis, Yassir Zenagui, the tourism minister, told reporters in the northern city of Tetouan on September 2.

In the seven months leading up to July some 5.6m visitors came to Morocco, according to the Ministry of Tourism. British tourists comprised most of the arrivals, followed by Italian and Spanish. Some 1.07m foreigners arrived in July alone, despite fears that tourism would decline due to the holy Muslim month of Ramadam falling during the summer season.

Growth in the tourism industry has in recent years averaged a contribution of around 9% to GDP, with sustained growth of 15% over the last decade, added Zenagui.

In terms of year-on-year growth, Zenagui said Morocco could outperform major players in global tourism such as Turkey this year, which he said is expected to see a 2% rise in arrivals.

Indeed, emerging markets are driving the majority of activity in the industry, according to figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) released in August. Overnight visitor arrival growth reached 12.3% by end of June in Africa, 13% in the Middle East, 12.3% for the Asia-Pacific, 5.9% in the Americas, and just 1.4% in Europe.

The WTTC’s 2010 Morocco Report, released in July, shows similar promise for the Maghreb country. The contribution of travel and tourism to Morocco’s GDP is expected to increase from 14.1%, or Dh111bn (€10.02bn), in 2010 to 16.7%, or Dh247bn (€22.3bn), by 2020. Real GDP growth for travel and tourism is expected to be 0.3% in 2010 and average 5.8% per year over the coming decade.

The travel body also estimates that the sector’s contribution to employment will rise from 12.2% of total employment, or some 1.3m jobs (1 out of every 8.2 jobs), in 2010, to 14.5% of total employment, or 1.9m jobs (1 out of every 6.9 jobs), by 2020.

Caisse de Depot et de Gestion’s, the country’s biggest state-run investment fund, plans to invest €1bn in tourism projects over the next five years. The investment is intended to form a major part of “Vision 2020”, a plan to attract foreign capital to the tourism industry that follows the “Vision 2010” strategy.

Under “Vision 2010”, also known as Plan Azur, six new developments were planned to open by 2010, though only two have opened for business: the Mediterrania Sadia, which was the first Plan Azur destination to open in June 2009, and the €300m Magazan Beach Resort, which opened in October 2009. Developer Le Jardin de Fleur is expected to open the first of its 11 resorts in early 2011.

The state’s funding commitment has raised hopes that development projects that have stalled or been postponed will start up again, developers have told regional press. The UAE-based companies Emaar Properties, which is building a residential community with tourism and retail components near the Tangier International Airport, and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, whose interests include a 17% stake in a company that owns a four-star tourist village in Marrakech, are hoping the infusion of cash will help more projects get under way.

With plans resuming for large-scale developments as investment picks up speed and foreigners continuing to look for holiday destinations outside of the Eurozone, Morocco’s travel industry is set to come close to achieving to the ambitious goals it has set itself.


Morocco, a pioneer in Maghreb region in terms of ICT, Expert says


Zurich – Morocco is a pioneer in the Maghreb region in terms of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), said, on Friday in Zurich, Jean-Pierre Labry, Managing Director of R&M Middle East and Africa, underlining that despite being ahead of many countries, Morocco always seeks to develop its infrastructure and avail itself of the best expertise in the field.

On the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony of the new head office of R&M, a company from Switzerland specializing in structured cabling, Labry told MAP that Morocco, in its ongoing quest for high-quality solutions and reliable competencies, is changing as far as information infrastructure is concerned.

R&M is closely following this major ICT evolution and is focusing its attention on rapidly growing fields like the banking and health systems in addition to hotels, the expert explained.

R&M is one of the world’s leading structured cabling specialists, represented internationally in over 30 countries.


Morocco – Favourable economic performance in 2010

30 /09 / 2010

Morocco (Rabat) – The latest data shows a “favorable performance” of Morocco’s economic activity in 2010, the Moroccan Economy and Finance Ministry has reported.

The primary sector saw a farming production of around 75 million quintals as well as an increase, up to end July, in both volume and value of the haul of inshore fishing (16.2%) and small-scale fishing (4.2%), it reported.

As to the production and exports of phosphates and derivatives, they witnessed an appreciable rise in the year to July, while the sector of building and civil engineering works saw a slight decline of 0.2% in cement sales up to late August compared to last year.

Regarding tertiary sector activities, the indicators of activity related to tourism kept, at the end of the first seven months of the year, a positive evolution.

The Moroccan economy achieved a growth rate of 3% in the second quarter of 2010, against 4.2% in the same period a year ago, according to the High Planning Commission (HCP).

The HCP noted that the GDP grew 3.6%, bringing the general price level to 0.6%.

In this regard, it pointed out that the economic activity saw a rise in non-agricultural GDP (+4.8%) compared to the same period in 2009, and a 7.6% decline in the agricultural value added.

Except for fisheries, which saw a decrease of 1%, all non-farm activity sectors had positive trends compared to the same period of 2009, the source said.

In this regard, mining and energy activities grew 22.2% as against a decline of 10.9%, owing to a rise of 46.9% in mines and 11.3% in electricity and water.

Activities of processing industries saw an improvement of 1.5% against a decline of 1%, while those of building and civil engineering works grew 2.6% against 3.9%.

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Morocco – Remarkable achievements in economic and social development

22 /09/ 2010

New York (United Nations) – Morocco’s achievements in the area of development over the past ten years have been remarkable, said Simon Serfaty, director of the international institute for strategic studies.

“Morocco’s achievements over the past ten years have been remarkable in every respect,” he told MAP on the sidelines of a meeting on the MDGs.

He said the Kingdom’s accomplishments at the level of the MDGs and economic development can make Morocco a world “hub of influence.”

The meeting examined the interdependence between MDGs and economic growth as well as development, with lessons from Morocco’s experience.

Morocco‘s INDH

The National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) has had a “very impressive” effect in Morocco, said William Zartman, professor at Johns Hopkins university in Washington.

“The changes brought about in Morocco as part of the INDH, launched in 2005 by HM King Mohammed VI are very impressive,” the US expert said in a meeting in New York on the MDGs.

For Zartman, “Morocco’s most important accomplishments” have been made particularly in the areas of rural development and primary education.

“These results are very telling,” he said, citing the “significant changes” and “far-reaching reforms” undertaken by the Kingdom.

The meeting, held on the sidelines of the 65th session of the UN General Assembly, examined several issues related to interdependence between the MDGs and economic growth and development, with lessons from the Moroccan experience.


Morocco, EU take important step towards liberalisation of agricultural trade

16 /09/ 2010

The European Commission today adopted a draft decision on an EU-Morocco bilateral trade agreement for agri-food and fisheries products. It now passes to the Council and the European Parliament for approval. The agreement will provide the immediate liberalisation of 55% of imports from Morocco, while at the same time reinforcing the position of European exporters on the Moroccan market, particularly exporters of processed agricultural products, with full liberalisation of most products planned in stages over the next ten years, Global Arab Network learned.

In the agricultural products sector, the agreement will allow for the immediate liberalisation of 45% of the value of EU exports and 70% in ten years. The tinned food, dairy products, oilseeds and fruit and vegetable sector will benefit fully from total liberalisation. The fisheries sector will also be opened up for EU products (91% after five years and 100% in 10 years).

Community exports for these three sectors reached almost €1.03 billion in the 2007-2009 period. Under the agreement, exports will benefit from better access to this neighbouring market, which is currently undergoing strong demographic growth. In global terms, the overall trade balance during the same period was largely favourable to the European Union, with exports of €12.3 billion relative to imports of € 7.3 billion.

The agreement marks an important stage in trade relations between the Morocco and EU, in line with political commitments made in the framework of the Barcelona Process. In the context of the Euro-Mediterranean roadmap for agriculture (Rabat roadmap) adopted on 28 November 2005, the European Commission and Morocco began negotiations in February 2006 to improve the existing agreement on the liberalisation of trade in agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products.

Starting from a limited level of liberalisation under the current agreement, Morocco agreed to a major effort to open up by immediately liberalising 45% of imports from the EU in terms of value. As provided for in the Rabat roadmap, Morocco will benefit from a transition period for the complete liberalisation of certain products. Thus the value of fully liberalised trade will increase to 61% in five years and 70% in ten years.

From the European Union’s perspective, the agreement responds by providing the immediate liberalisation of 55% of imports from Morocco. The improved concessions in the fruit and vegetable sector, which accounts for 80% of the EU’s imports, have taken account of particular sensitivities, with the aim of integrating Moroccan exports into the EU market and promoting complementarities between the production systems.


North Africa’s Sun King


For decades, Morocco, the only North African nation without large quantities of oil, combed the surrounding desert in search of fossil fuels. But roughly a year and a half ago, the country shifted gears and turned to a resource that exists in abundance across the region: the sun.

Now Europe—long dependent on Middle Eastern oil and Russian natural gas—has begun to look toward the heat of the Sahara for some of its long-term energy needs. By 2050, roughly 15 percent of European energy could be generated by wind and solar-thermal power in North Africa and parts of the Middle East, according to Dii, widely known as Desertec, a group of mostly European companies such as Siemens that are developing clean-energy technology in the region. Although the effort—projected to cost $510 billion—is still in its infancy, analysts say Morocco has far more aggressive investment plans than its regional rivals and is well positioned to become North Africa’s leading provider of renewable energy, especially solar-thermal.

Driving the early success has been sheer necessity. In 2008, when global oil prices hit record highs, Morocco—which imports the bulk of its power—saw energy costs nearly double, to roughly $9 billion annually. Soon after, King Mohamed VI issued a royal decree making the development of alternative energy one of his top priorities. He also put a legal framework in place to encourage European investment and has managed to limit instability in a region known for political tumult.

Another advantage for Morocco: geography. The sun over the Sahara is far stronger than it is in Europe. But what distinguishes the country from its desert-dwelling neighbors is its close proximity to Spain. The two countries are separated by less than 16km at some points, and they’re connected by an energy transmission line. Currently the line sends energy from Spain to Morocco, but it could work both ways, and analysts say the line’s existence gives Morocco an edge over its neighbors for access to the European market.

Getting a foothold in that market may take some time, however, due to a shortage of funding. By 2020, Morocco hopes to invest several billion dollars in solar-thermal power and use the technology to drastically increase its domestic energy production. But unlike, say, wind power, which is economically competitive with fossil fuels, solar-thermal often is not, despite subsidies from various international financial institutions. Analysts say the costs of solar-thermal will come down, eventually. “Morocco won’t be a major player in the green-energy market next year,” says Johann Scheidt of Esound Energy, a U.S. consulting firm. “But the pieces are there. This is coming.”

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Morocco, a dynamic market leading the way in North Africa, UK ambassador


London – Modern Morocco is an exciting and dynamic market which is leading the way in North Africa with an ambitious liberalisation programme, said UK ambassador to Morocco, Tim Morris.

Morocco is a country on the move with plans to invest œ3.8 billion in tourism, œ2 billion in water management and ambitious plans to upgrade its airports and motorways said the diplomat in a story published by the Financial Times.

He also mentioned the major new port Morocco is building on the Mediterranean and the country’s efforts to transform Casablanca into a city of the 21st century.

Morris lauded the Moroccan government’s determination to succeed and the commitment of its senior business leaders.

Morocco is promoting exports, building links and explaining the development in the economy, he said, insisting that Morocco will, without a doubt, succeed in attracting some big prestige investments as it is already doing in infrastructure and transport.

“Lasting success will be achieved when European and global small and medium enterprises, start-ups and venture capitalists make the contacts, explore the market and see the opportunity,” added the ambassador, stressing that for British business, Morocco is a gateway for both the Maghreb, which will have 100 million consumers by 2020, and for West Africa.

Morocco is becoming increasingly integrated with Europe, he noted, inviting UK companies to explore opportunities in this dynamic and modernising market.

Morris further hailed the centuries-old commercial and diplomatic ties between Morocco and the UK, explaining that Britain “is one of Morocco’s oldest trading partners with our diplomatic links stretching back seven centuries.”

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Morocco ranks second in Maghreb in Global Competitiveness Ranking 2010-2011


Geneva – Morocco ranked second in the Maghreb region after Tunisia in the global growth competitiveness ranking report 2010-2011 of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

According to the report, presented on Wednesday at a press briefing in Geneva, Morocco occupies the 75th place with a score of 4.08, followed by Algeria (86th), Libya (100th) and Mauritania (135th). Tunisia ranked 32th with a score of 4.65.

Globally, Switzerland topped the ranking, while the United States slipped two places to fourth, overtaken by Sweden (2) and Singapore (3).


FT highlights Morocco’s potentials and efforts to boost partnership with other countries


London – UK business daily Financial Times issued on Wednesday a supplement on Morocco, highlighting Morocco’s potentials and ongoing efforts aimed at diversifying and bolstering its partnership with several countries.

The paper underlined Morocco’s geographical situation which makes it a crossing point for many regions.

Located in north Africa near Europe, Morocco is open to the emerging markets of sub-Saharan Africa, it noted, underscoring the Kingdom’s world class infrastructure in the fields of IT and transportation.

Thanks to the adoption of international standards in the field of environment protection, a skilled labor and a dynamic private sector, Morocco is eager to step up trade opportunities in many areas, including food processing, textile, fisheries and car industry.

The supplement comprises interviews with many Moroccan officials, mainly Morocco’s ambassador to the UK Chrifa Lalla Joumala Alaoui.


Morocco, a regional hub for trade, investment – Ambassador


London – Morocco is uniquely positioned as a regional hub for trade, investment, redistribution, and IT services (nearshoring), said, on Wednesday, Morocco’s Ambassador to the UK, Chrifa Lalla Joumala Alaoui.

Morocco’s closeness and vicinity to the EU, Middle East and the rest of Africa should not be disregarded, the Ambassador said in a conversation with the British daily the Financial Times, adding that Morocco is becoming a “regional platform” for companies seeking to expand their business and develop successfully and profitably mid and long term partnerships.

“The UK-Morocco link is a particularly important component of this vision,” Cherifa Lalla Joumala Alaoui said.

Trade between Morocco and the UK has tripled over the last 10 years, the Moroccan diplomat said, noting that the UK is currently Morocco’s 5th client and its 9th supplier.

“We believe that the United Kingdom is a market with great potential for Moroccan products,” she said, adding that “this is the vision we had in mind when we launched annual trade meetings with our major UK partners.”

Touching on the meeting held in London earlier this summer in collaboration with Morocco’s export promotion agency “Maroc Export”, the Ambassador said that similar meetings will now be held elsewhere in Europe, Africa, and North America.

Chrifa lalla Joumala underscored the reforms launched in Morocco during the last decade of the reign of HM King Mohammed VI, adding they have been implemented “as part of a consistent strategy” aiming to achieve a sustainable, strong economic growth and to improve the well-being of all Moroccans.

Under the leadership of His Majesty, Morocco has established a sound macroeconomic framework which provides stability and

visibility to our partners, the diplomat said, adding that the Kingdom also improved the environment for doing business and the microeconomic foundations for competitiveness.

“We have rolled highly focused, sector-specific growth strategies in key areas of the country’s economy, including energy, water, manufacturing, agriculture, trade and tourism,” she said.

A focused crisis mitigation effort, stable exchange rate, low inflation and attractive trade agreements have allowed Morocco to achieve the highest GDP growth rate in the region, added the Ambassador.

In this respect, she recalled the Advanced Status enjoyed by Morocco in its relations with the EU and the upgrade of Morocco’s “S&P” (Standard & Poor’s) credit rating to “investment grade”.

Concerning Morocco’s value proposition, the diplomat underscored the modern and efficient infrastructure, competitive resources and specific sectorial incentives.

In this respect, Chrifa lalla Joumala highlighted the “Pacte Emergence” for industry and services, saying that this pact provides state-of-the-arts platforms in the aerospace, automotive, offshoring and outsourcing industries.

She also drew attention to the green Morocco plan and Halieutis which aim to foster Morocco’s agriculture growth and its fisheries in addition to the Azur plan for tourism.

“Close to ten million tourists are expected to visit Morocco in 2010, more recently we witnessed the effective launch of the “Solar Energy Plan” positioning Morocco as a leader in renewable energies,” the Ambassador said.

The ambassador showcased the development of Morocco’s motorways network which will soon extend to 1800 km along with North Africa’s first TGV high-speed train, linking Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier by 2015 and Marrakech by 2018, said the Ambassador.

She stressed the importance of the Tangier Mediterranean port, the region’s largest high-tech facility that includes a deep-sea harbor, logistics platform, industrial and commercial free zones and rail and highway links.

Chrifa Lalla Joumala Alaoui recalled that Morocco managed to limit the financial crisis’ impact on its economy, stressing the north African Kingdom’s endeavor to foster competitiveness, modernize the productive sectors and improve products diversification.

“Diversifying our offer and increasing market accessibly and regional integration with Europe the United States and North and Sub-Saharan Africa are priorities,” she underlined, pointing to Morocco’s efforts to modernize the stock market, ease the availability of credits, and revise laws that regulate corporations.

A growing number of Moroccan businessmen and women are enthusiastic about the possibility of diversifying and expanding the range of their partners, Chrifa Lalla Joumala Alaoui added, saying she is “both encouraged and optimist” about the future.


Morocco, increasingly attracting more investments – Chami


London – The Moroccan economy has been growing at a sustainable rate and is increasingly attracting more investments, said on Wednesday Moroccan Industry, Commerce and New Technology minister.

These achievements are a result of sound economic fundamentals, choice of  openness and a large portfolio of decisive development strategies in different  sectors, said Chami in a story published by the Financial Times.

As far as industry is concerned, we have defined and implemented an  integrated development plan referred to as Emergence focusing on five axes”,  said the minister, explaining that the first axis deals with the development of  six global activities where Morocco has a competitive advantage: Offshoring,  automotive, aerospace, electronics, textile and agro-industry.

The second axis concerns the development of 22 integrated industrial  platforms, offering investors world-class infrastructures and services with a one-stop-shop concept, while the third covers the improvement of business  climate through the implementation of ambitious legislative, regulatory and  institutional reforms, noted Chami.

The fourth axis deals with the improvement of SMEs competitiveness through a targeted plan to increase their growth rate and reinforce their productivity,  he added, noting that the fifth axis covers a human-oriented initiative through a national training plan that aims at matching the industry sector demand in  terms of quantity and quality.

The minister further stressed that Morocco, given its geo-strategic positioning, is an optimum export-oriented industrial production platform and a  gateway to Europe, Africa and the US.


Morocco: Trade in services reaches 24 billion dirhams surplus


Morocco (Rabat) – Trade in services in Morocco achieved an estimated 24.32 billion dirhams surplus at the end of July, compared to 25.8 billion dirhams a year earlier, according to Morocco’s exchange rate monitoring body “Office des Changes”.

The income of services, namely travel, transportation, communications and call-centers reached 58.3 billion dirhams, corresponding to a 4.5% increase rate, while the expenditure amounted to 33.9 billion dirhams, corresponding to a 13.2% increase rate, added the Exchange Office, which recently published the monthly indicators of Morocco’s foreign exchange operations.

Travel income increased at the end of July, reaching 30.5 billion dirhams, compared to 28.6 billion dirhams during the same period of last year, achieving a 6.9% increase rate, while its expenditure amounted at 4.5 dirhams billion, with a 4.8% increase rate.

Accordingly, travel balance achieved a 25.7 billion dirhams surplus, compared to 24.3 billion dirhams at the end of July 2009.

Transportation, communication and call-centers services generated earnings of 10.8 billion dirhams, 3.19 billion dirhams and 2.28 billion dirhams respectively.

The income of Moroccans residing abroad has increased to reach 30.9 billion dirhams at the end of July, which corresponds to an 8.5% increase rate from July 2009, according to the same source.

The income of foreign investments and private loans reached 12.3 billion dirhams, that is a 16.9% decrease from that of July 2009 which amounted to 14.8 billion dirhams.

Direct investments contributed up to 84.4%to the total of these incomes, while portfolio investments and private loans contributed 13.1% and 2.5% respectively.


Spain: RIU Hotels & Resorts to Expand in Morocco

06 /09/ 2010

Madrid – Spanish hotel chain “RIU Hotels & Resorts” will strengthen its presence in Morocco with the opening next year of three new hotels, the group has announced.

The chain, which has already two hotels in Agadir and one in Marrakech, will consolidate its presence in the Moroccan market with the opening of three other hotels in the same cities (two in Agadir and one in Marrakech), which will increase its accommodation capacity in Morocco to 1776 rooms, the Spanish group added in a statement.

In Agadir, “RIU Hotels & Resorts” will open two hotels with a total capacity of 495 rooms; “Riu Grand Palace Tikida Golf” in May 2011 and “Riu Palace Tikida Agadir,” in November 2011.

The group will also open in the city of Marrakech “Riu Tikida Garden” in May 2011 with a capacity of 255 rooms.

“Morocco is a fascinating country thanks to its rich culture, exotic traditions, magnificent scenery, beaches and cuisine, which makes of it a tourist destination that attracts thousands of tourists every year,” the group’s CEO said, quoted by the statement.

RIU Hotels & Resorts now has more than 100 hotels in 21 countries which welcome over 2.9 million guests a year. RIU is currently the world’s 28th ranked chain and the third largest in Spain by revenue and number of rooms.


Morocco to host World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa in Marrakech

04 /09/ 2010

Morocco (Casablanca) – The World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will be held on October 26-28 in Marrakech, under the theme “Sense, Resilience and Prosperity”.

The announcement of this major event in the international economic agenda was made on Thursday in Casablanca.

This Forum will bring together policymakers, business leaders, and representatives of civil society and opinion leaders in order to reflect on a strategy of growth and development for the region in a context characterized by the global economic crisis, the volatility of oil prices and water shortage.

The Forum will mainly tackle “Regional responses to global risks,” “Promoting sustainable growth” and “North Africa: New Regions of commercial partnership.”

Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, André Schneider, said that the choice of Morocco to host such an event is due to its geographic position and its close links with Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East as well as its well-established ties with North America and Latin America.


Morocco: Economic growth around 4% in 2010 and 4.3% in 2011

04 /09/ 2010

Morocco (Rabat) – The state Planning Commission (HCP) has prepared its exploratory economic budget that presents a review of the national economic growth in 2010 and prospects for 2011.

According to its forecasts, the growth rate would stand at 4% in 2010 and 4.3% in 2011.

The 2010 growth rate is attributed to the decline in the value added of primary sector by 7.5% compared to 2009, which was marked by a strong growth of 29%.

The HCP added that the gross non-farm product would grow by 5.9% in 2010 compared to 1.3% in 2009.

National savings are forecast to improve slightly in 2010, said the HCP, adding that the savings rate will reach 31.5% instead of 31% in 2009.

As to the national economic growth in the year 2011, it is attributed to an increase of 5.4% of non-agricultural GDP, according to the same source.

Regarding foreign trade, exports of goods and services would rise by 6.6% in 2011 due to the consolidation of world demand addressed to Morocco.

Despite the improvement in net income from the rest of the world, from 6.7% of GDP in 2010 to 7.6% in 2011, the national saving rate will increase only slightly, to stand at 31.7% of GDP in 2011, said the HCP.


Morocco tourist arrivals rise 10 pct yr/yr in July


RABAT (Reuters) – The number of tourists arriving in Morocco in July rose 10 percent from a year earlier and 4 percent compared to June, the Tourism Ministry said on Friday.

The Ministry said 1.071 million foreigners arrived in July, usually the most popular month of the year.

Hoteliers and government officials had feared that the global economic downtown and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan would trim the number of holidaymakers this season.

Ramadan this year falls right in the middle of the summer holiday season.

In the seven months to July, 5.6 million visitors came to Morocco, with British tourist arrivals contributing for most of growth followed by Italian and Spanish tourists, the ministry said.

Tourism, the second earner of foreign currency for Morocco after remittances by expatriates, accounts for 9 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.


Moroccan economy most dynamic in North Africa


The Moroccan economy is “one of the most dynamic economies in the North African region,” says report the Deutsche Bank’s research department.

The recently issued report underlines that Morocco’s economy, which boasts promising potentials, is way ahead the economies of the North African region (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria) thanks to the partnership between the kingdom and the EU.

The report, published online by the German TV channel Deutsche Welle, puts Egypt and Tunisia second, and Algeria and Libya fourth and fifth respectively.

Entitled “North Africa: the Mediterranean neighbours on the path of development”, the report takes into account macroeconomic stability, financial sector’s soundness, natural resources, political stability and investing environment.


Despite global crisis – Morocco to receive over 9 million tourists by end-2010

02 /09/ 2010

Morocco (Tetuan) – Moroccan Tourism Minister said, on Wednesday, the Kingdom is able to receive more than 9 million tourists by late 2010 despite the difficult economic situation in the world over the past years.

“The results are positive and we will be able to exceed the figure of nine million tourists by the end of the year, that is 93% to 94% of the objective set by the Government’s ambitious strategy in the area of tourism,” Yassir Zenagui told the press on the occasion of the launch of renovation works of a tourist village in the northern city of Tetuan.

According to the minister, Morocco could, in spite of the sharp economic crisis of last year, outperform some competing countries, achieving a 6% growth rate in the field of tourism, followed by Turkey with 2%, while some countries such as Tunisia and Spain saw a decline of 2 and 9% respectively.

He said he is confident of tourism development in Morocco thanks to the Government’s strategy which turned the sector into a key economic vector which now accounts for 9% of the country’s GDP, and which has seen a sustained growth of 15% over the past decade.

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Morocco Wants Leadership in Renewable Energy

29/08/ 2010

(Source: Info-Prod Research (Middle East)) According to ANBA: Morocco, an Arab nation in North Africa, is progressing with a series of activities aimed at becoming a global leader in renewable energy . The theme was the target of an article published by French paper La Tribune, according to Maghreb Arabe Presse (MAP), the Moroccan news agency. Ever since the country signed the executive contention of the United Nations on climate change, in 1995, and the Kyoto Protocol, in 2000, the government of Morocco has been adopting measures in favour of the environment. Around one year ago, however, points out the French paper, the process was accelerated.

The Moroccan environmental project takes into consideration a horizon of ten years and covers several sectors, like water conservation and recovery of residues. In the case of residues, the objective is for 90% of the waste produced in the country to be recycled in ten years. The current percentage is 70%. The French newspaper says that the country has even greater ambitions for production of renewable energies, but recalls that 97% of the Moroccan energy is currently imported, mainly oil. “With the elevation of quality of life and economic development, energy needs are going to present a threefold increase by 2030. There is urgency for expansion of the country’s energy capacity,” said Mustapha Bakkoury, the president of the Moroccan Solar Energy Agency (Masen), to La Tribune. According to him, renewable energy, like solar and wind energy, should represent 42% of the energy capacity of the country in 2020. Production should reach 2,000 megawatts in each of the areas. The country is installing its first hydroelectric power plants and has been developing projects in the wind area, where the installed capacity totals 300 megawatts, with another 700 megawatts in installation.

In November 2009, Morocco also announced a great solar energy project. “Morocco plays a central part in terms of energy in the region and may be a centre for energy connection between Europe and Africa,” stated the Energy, Mines, Water and Environment minister of Morocco, Amina Benkhadra.

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Morocco: Realising the Vision

27/08/ 2010

In 1999, His Highness King Mohammed VI announced a vision of modernity and today Morocco has plenty to celebrate.

The aim of His Majesty’s Royal Plan Azur initiative was to invigorate the Moroccan tourism market by, amongst other things, identifying key locations prime for development. Two of these new destinations are now open and the 14% rise in tourism in the first two months of 2010 can be somewhat attributed to their success. A total of 42 billion tourist receipts are forecasted for 2010.

Morocco: Realising the Vision

In 1999, His Highness King Mohammed VI announced a vision of modernity and today Morocco has plenty to celebrate.

The aim of the Royal Plan Azur initiative was to invigorate the Moroccan tourism market by, amongst other things, identifying key locations prime for development. Two of these new destinations are now open and the 14% rise in tourism in the first two months of 2010 can be somewhat attributed to their success. A total of 42 billion tourist receipts are forecasted for 2010.

Mediterrania Sadia was the first Plan Azur destination to open in June 2009 and was officially inaugurated by the King. It is the only Plan Azur destination located on the Mediterranean Coast and includes a 1350 berth marina, a championship 18-hole golf course managed by Troon Golf and a large European styled shopping centre. August 2010 also saw the opening of the destinations third hotel, the Globalia Be Live, which has added to the 1500 rooms already provided by hotels Barcelo and Iberostar along the 6km stretch of Mediterranean coast.

The achievements of Mediterrania Sadias grand opening were again applauded when the African Business Awards named Morocco as African Tourism Destination of the Year.

The 2nd Plan Azur destination opened in October 2009 on the Atlantic coast, 90km from Casablanca. The 300 million euro Mazagan Beach Resort forecasts visitor numbers of 2 million per year with a 7km beachfront, golf course designed by Gary Player and Casino being its main attractions.

And after 10 years of enthronement, King Mohammeds ambitions for his country show no sign of slowing down. Oujda international airport has recently completed renovation works that enable it to handle 2 million passengers per annum. It is set to become the 2nd largest hub in Morocco thanks to its prime location on the northeast coast (just 35 minutes from Mediterrania Sadia via the new motorway).

Mediterrania Sadia will also continue to grow with 2 more 18-hole golf courses, a sports centre, a polo ground and an aqua park to be developed. In addition, developer Le Jardin de Fleur is expected to open the first of its 11 resorts of freehold apartments which will be fully managed by Best Western Premier in early 2011.

The newly appointed Tourism Minister, Mr. Yassir Zenagui, states In 2010 we are aiming to realise growth of 10% in tourism numbers. We have a strong desire to focus on sustainable tourism with environmental awareness and a high quality tourism product.


Economist Intelligence Unit highlights Morocco and EU relations

28/08/ 2010

UK (London) – British Think-tank The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) highlighted the “privileged” relations between Morocco and the European Union (UE).

“Morocco holds a privileged relationship with the EU,” EIU said in its August’s Country Report on Morocco, adding that the kingdom is the first non-European country to become a member of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe.

“Morocco plays a key role in the Union for the Mediterranean and the EU-African Dialogue,” the Think-tank said, stressing that it is the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to obtain advanced status from the EU, “a title that paves the way for a deepening of political relations, and closer integration with the EU market.”

The advanced status is expected to further the country’s integration into EU policies and extend free-trade agreements, the report noted.

It underlined that Morocco and the EU had signed in July an agreement worth over 580 million Euros that will focus on social development, economic modernisation, institutional reform, human rights protection and environmental policy.

Morocco is the largest aid recipient under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), which supports reform in partner countries, according to the report.

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Morocco’s tourism sector ‘robust’ amid economic slump, official says


Rabat – The tourism sector is robust despite the economic slump thanks to measures taken by the Moroccan government to address the world financial crisis, Tourism Minister Yassir Zenagui said.

“The different measures taken by the government allowed us to keep the business on the right track,” Zenagui told US TV channel CNN.

He noted that tourist arrivals rose by 16% during the first quarter of 2010 versus a year before.

He added that these results are the upshot of the reforms put in place by the north African country to raise the quality of the Moroccan product.

The Minister stressed that the Moroccan financial system was not affected by the crisis and the banks did not have any exposure to subprime markets.

“Morocco had a 6% growth in a difficult time, while most countries of the region had a negative progression,” he said.


Morocco improving financial services and budget allocations

17 /08/ 2010

Two different reports released this summer that evaluate Morocco’s public finance management have reached similar conclusions about the country’s efforts to improve the delivery of financial services and budget allocations.

The World Bank’s “Public Financial Management Reform in the Middle East and North Africa: An Overview of Regional Experience”, released in June, and the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) appraisal report for phase four of the Public Administration Reform Support Programme (PARSP), released in May, both state that the government has made modest but effective progress in advancing its delivery of public services.

Governments throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region spent €317.5bn in 2007 in delivering policy, regulatory and service functions. In many countries in the region, public finance management reform programmes have been on the agenda for a decade, sometimes longer, according to the World Bank.

In Morocco’s case, the specific objectives of the PARSP, which is managed by the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Public Sector Modernisation and supported by the AfDB, the World Bank and the EU, include improving government efficiency in budget and human resource management, controlling the civil services’ wage bill, and streamlining administrative procedures by developing electronic government services, according to the AfDB report.

The PARSP, now in its fourth phase, is intended to improve Morocco’s investment climate and attract foreign investors. It is being financed by a €100m loan from the AfDB, a €73.7m loan from the World Bank and another €73m grant from the EU. The AfDB’s €100m contribution will be used to cover the widening budget deficit in 2010, which, according to the AfDB report, was caused mainly by government measures to stave off effects of the global financial crisis.

Indeed, after excellent public finance performance in recent years, the government’s budget position worsened in 2009, due mainly to an expansive policy to maintain growth amid sluggish exports. Overall, however, ongoing structural reforms of the public sector, which are associated with PARSP, have contributed to strong economic growth over the past decade, minus the recent financial crisis, the World Bank report notes. Morocco scores among the highest in the MENA region on budgetary and financial management performance, although, as has been the case with countries around the world, the global financial crisis has resulted in a need for extraordinary government action.

Since 2003, when the World Bank’s Country Financial Accountability Assessment gauged Morocco’s public financial management fiduciary risk as low, the country has continued to improve revenue management and institute stricter control of the civil service payroll. This has been done, the World Bank notes, despite higher international fuel and food prices during the mid- to late-2000s.

Morocco’s fiscal targets for 2009, for example, were all achieved, including a budget deficit of no more than 3% of GDP, public debt of no more than 60% and a civil service wage bill of less than 10% of GDP. In 2009 Morocco’s growth rate stood at nearly 4.9%, down only slightly from 2008’s level of 5.6%, a result of the strength of its economy.

In early July Salaheddine Mezouar, the minister of economy and finance, told media that Morocco’s economic growth should exceed 4% this year, although it will also see a 4% deficit as a result of an increased fuel subsidy bill.

The World Bank report does, however, note areas where services can be improved. Though Morocco has consistently performed above the MENA region average in most measures of governance, including scoring well on the quality of public administration, its major weakness is insufficient accountability. The Global Integrity Index, put out by the international NGO Global Integrity, gave the country a disappointing overall rating in 2008, emphasising issues such as limited citizen access to information and poor regulations governing the budgetary process.

The World Bank’s report also notes that fiscal transparency is “reasonable” but that “the scope of the budget needs expansion. Budget execution and accounting procedures are cumbersome and need streamlining.” And while overall budget information is available to the public, the report notes, in practice it is not easy to access.

Efforts are under way to change this, however, with the “Maroc Numeric 2013” programme set to establish 89 new online services by 2013, local media reported in July. The strategy, funded with Dh5.2bn (€465.1m) from government and banking institutions, aims to bridge the gap between government and citizens, particularly in regards to public services, and should help to mirror the larger goals of the PARSP.

“The public sector will gain hugely in terms of efficiency and effectiveness with the introduction of [e-government] services, with simpler automated processing of information,” Mohamed Benmahjoub, an advisor to the minister of industry trade and new technologies, told local media. The plan is expected to add some Dh27bn (€2.4bn) to GDP and create 26,000 new jobs.

Morocco’s public finance management reforms have managed to implement a number of modest but effective changes. With further work under the PARSP and an increased focus on providing e-government services, efforts to increase transparency and efficiency of public financial services will likely increase further, or at least continue at a steady pace. If the fourth phase of the PARSP finishes as planned, the country is also likely to see improved transparency in human resources and public administration.


EU offers € 135 million grants to support agricultural policy in Morocco

09 /08/ 2010

The European Commission today approved a new financial support package of €135 million for Morocco. The package, in the form of grants, will support reform by the Moroccan Government in three areas: agricultural policy with the ‘Plan Maroc Vert’, the strategy for integrating populations living in remote areas and the literacy strategy.

The grants amounting to €135 million (around 1,375 million Moroccan dirham) are aimed at directly improving the lives of the Moroccan population. “Our aid programme reflects the special nature of the partnership between the European Union and Morocco in the context of Advanced Status relations. It also attests to the very great importance that we attribute to the reforms implemented by the Kingdom of Morocco to strengthen social cohesion and combat poverty”, said Štefan Füle, the Commissioner in charge of Enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy.

Sectoral support programme for agricultural policy (€70 million)

The priority for this programme is to provide support for the Plan Maroc Vert (the PMV) targeting small-scale or ‘inclusive’ farming. It will contribute towards strengthening the livestock and crop-growing sectors (mainly the production of olive oil, dates, red meat and local specialities), with the emphasis on marketing and production quality and on increasing producer revenue and creating jobs.

Sectoral support programme for the strategy for integrating populations living in remote areas (€55 million)

This programme will provide support to the National Rural Roads Programme designed to improve the access of isolated communities to the road network via all weather roads.

Support programme for the implementation of the literacy strategy (€10 million)

Following on from the ongoing European Commission programme, this additional support is aimed at raising literacy rates, bolstering the intervention capacity of the institutions and NGOs involved in implementing the strategy, improving the quality of training, introducing schemes for certifying the skills acquired through training courses and organising opportunities for social and socio-professional integration.

The European Commission is the leading donor to Morocco with a National Indicative Programme (NIP) constituting €654 million for the 2007-2010 period.


Morocco, Turkey intensifying efforts to strengthen economic cooperation

05 /08/ 2010

Morocco (Rabat) – The Kingdom of Morocco and Turkey agreed to foster cooperation in the economic field.

This came in a meeting between chairman of the Rabat council Fathallah Oualalou and a delegation of Turkish businessmen.

The two parties agreed on intensifying efforts to further develop cooperation in various economic sectors and reinforcing the bonds of friendship between the two countries, a statement by the Rabat urban commune said.

They called for boosting relations of solidarity and openness on the neighbouring countries, mainly the Mediterranean region.

Oualalou outlined the partnership agreements signed between Rabat and the cities of Istanbul and Bursa, adding that discussions are underway to establish partnership relations with Ankara.

He stressed that “due to its geographical position and its history, Turkey could play an important role in establishing good neighbourly relations with Europe and Asia.”

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Morocco Targets High-Tech Inward Investment

03 /08/ 2010

Morocco is spreading its wings in order to attract more foreign inward investment into expanding opportunities in a range of industrial and service sectors. High technology enterprises, aerospace companies in particular, are being targeted as potential investors.

The government is keen to emphasise the country’s improving economic environment. These efforts were boosted in March this year when the Kingdom was upgraded to investment grade by rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poors.

Fathallah Sijilmassi, general manager of the Moroccan Agency for Investment Development, told Global Arab Network that the number of aviation sector companies attracted to Morocco is increasing rapidly. More than 100 aeronautical companies now have a presence in Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier, Mohammedia, Bouskoura and Nouasser.

There are big economic advantages for a foreign company locating to Morocco and not just at the low-technology end of the market, Sijilmassi believes. He says that his country is competitive throughout the supply train with costs as low as one third those in Europe.

There has been growing interest from European aircraft manufacturers in Morocco since promotional efforts started at the Paris Air Show in 2009. These continued at Farnborough’s International Air Show in July this year.

EADS, Boeing, Snecma, Creuzet Indraero, Aircelle, Daher, Souriau, Labinal, Zodiac Aerospace, Safran Engineering and Le Piston Francais are among the aerospace companies that have located operations in Morocco.

Ahmed Reda Chami, Morocco’s Minister of industry, trade and new technologies who attended Farnborough told Global Arab Network that a European company with 10,000 employees, ranging from clerical workers to senior directors, would save about $363 million a year by moving its operation to his country.

The benefits of establishing factories in Morocco include lower labour costs and the proximity to European markets. Chami said his figures took into account labour costs, taxes and transportation.

Morocco is just nine miles from Europe across the Strait of Gibralter enabling just-in-time deliveries to European countries. Logistics infrastructure is being steadily improved with Tangiers port poised to become the largest transportation hub in the Mediterranean.

Most of Morocco’s aerospace companies set up in the last five years Growth has been rapid. The various enterprises had a turnover of more than $500 million in 2009 and now employ more than 8,000 people. Chami expects that the new sector will provide around 15,000 jobs by 2015.

The Moroccan Space and Aeronautical Industries Group (GIMAS) says that production and assembly of equipment and systems, wiring, electronics, production of composite structures and provision of engine and aircraft maintenance, tooling and machining and other engineering services is being steadily extended.

The country’s bourgeoning aerospace sector is likely to be enhanced by the creation of the Moroccan Aeronautical Institute later this year. The institute is designed to provide a steady stream of qualified technicians, operators and middle management personnel. It is being established with support from the French metal industries organisation Union des Industries et des Metiers de la Metallurgie (UIMM).

Morocco also offers investors located in its free zones a five-year break from corporation tax thereafter after the rate is fixed at 8.75 per cent. Grants are also available for up to 10 per cent of investment costs from Morocco’s King Hassan 11 Fund. Crucially, the government promises comprehensive legal guarantees for investors’ intellectual property warranties

Europe’s aerospace manufacturers are also being attracted to other parts of North Africa. Tunisia now has some 43 plants employing 2,400 workers serving the sector. French engine components manufacturer Figeac Aero is outsourcing lower-value manufacturing to a new subsidiary in Tunisia, which will begin production in September and expected to be employing 250 people by 2012.

The company is among a cluster of aerospace enterprises that have been attracted to operate around a plant opened by Airbus’s subsidiary Aerolia in the M’Ghira aeronautical zone near Tunis. Aerolia, which produces nose fuselage sections for the full range of Airbus aircraft, has invested $10 million in its Tunisian operation.

Figeac Aero founder and president Jean-Claude Maillard told Global Arab Network “with Tunisia we are planning to have the best production organisation. It is a global industry and most of my competitors can deliver the right product at the right time. We want to do it at the right price too.”

Morocco’s investment chief Sijilmassi acknowledges that other low-cost locations including those in Eastern Europe, Mexico and some Asian countries are likely to provide keen competition.

However, he believes that Morocco’s winning card is his country’s availability of a skilled and motivated workforce and not least its close proximity to key aerospace markets in Europe. These are advantages that can be built upon, he believes.


Economist: Morocco to become a leading renewable energy actor

02 /08/ 2010

London – Morocco is hoping to become a leading actor in renewable energy on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, said the UK-based  The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), in its Morocco Country Report for July.

The source recalled that HM King Mohammed VI chaired a ceremony in Tangier in late June to launch the Moroccan national wind energy programme worth 31.5bn dirhams ($3.9bn), while inaugurating the 2.75 bn dirhams wind park, Dahr Saadane,  the largest in Africa.

The new park is expected to generate 2.5% of domestic demand for energy,  said the source, adding that the wind energy programme will bring wind-based installed electric capacity from a current 280 mw to 2,000 mw by 2020.

The programme is expected to save 2.5m tonnes/year (t/y) of combustible oil  and prevent the emission of around 9m t/y of carbon dioxide, said the source.


Morocco invites bids for phase one of solar scheme

29 /07/ 2010

RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco is inviting investors who have expressed interest in phase one of its $9 billion solar power project to submit pre-qualification bids by October 4 at the latest, its solar energy agency said on Thursday.

The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) said it will accept bids by individual firms or companies teaming up in consortiums.

Pre-qualification bids being invited are for the construction of one or more thermo-solar units with a capacity of at least 125 megawatts (MW) at the planned complex, near the southern town of Ouarzazate.

More bids will be launched for the Ourzazate solar complex before the end of 2012 and will involve building at least one photovoltaic solar power station, MASEN said.

When it is completed the Ouarzazata complex will have a capacity of 500 MW — or enough to power about 90,000 homes.

The government says the complex is part of the country’s solar plan to build five power stations and will account for 38 percent of Morocco’s installed power generation by 2020.

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Morocco: Tangier free zone ranks eighth worldwide

22 /07/ 2010

London – The Tangier free zone was ranked eighth worldwide for 2010/2011, according to a global ranking of economic zones conducted by British magazine Foreign Direct Investment (fDi).

Since its setting up, the Tangier free zone has drawn investments of over 6 billion dirhams, says the magazine, adding that the free trade zone ranked second as best port zone, third as best airport zone and eighth in the category of best facilities.

It noted that economic zones based in the United Arab Emirates dominated the Free Zones of the Future 2010/11 ranking, with seven of the top 25 zones coming from the UAE.

Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone (WFTZ) topped the list, followed by the free zone of San Luis Potosi in Mexico.

The judging criteria were economic potential, cost effectiveness, incentives, facilities, transportation, fDi promotional strategy, port and airport.

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Morocco, EU sign € 580 million cooperation programme

13 /07/ 2010

The EU and Morocco have signed the 2011-2013 National Indicative Programme (NIP) worth €580.5 million (more than 6.3 billion dirhams) over three years, which defines the strategic priorities and financial commitments for the period.

The cooperation programme was signed by the Minister of Economy and Finance Salaheddine Mezouar and EU Head of Delegation Eneko Landaburu. Pledging the EU’s support, the Ambassador said, “Morocco’s ambition in the fields of development, modernisation and democracy are in line with its process of rapprochement with the European Union, as expressed in the advanced status roadmap.”

With an overall budget that remains the highest in the neighbourhood, the five priority areas identified in Morocco’s NIP are:

* Development of social policies;

* Economic modernisation;

* Institutional support;

* Good governance and human rights;

* Environmental protection.

Projects funded range from agriculture to health, gender equality to housing.

The year 2009 was an important year that saw the strengthening of the partnership between the EU and Morocco within the framework of the Advanced Status, agreed in October 2008 and setting out an ambitious roadmap for the progressive and sustained development of bilateral relations. Positive results were achieved, especially in the area of political dialogue, and two out of the four ongoing bilateral negotiations were finalised in 2009 – those on the settlement of commercial disputes and on trade in agricultural, processed agricultural and fishery products.

The EU-Morocco Summit held in March 2010 in Grenada – the first ever between the EU and an Arab country – crowned a year that had been rich in achievements. The challenge for 2010 is to translate into concrete achievements the many commitments made within the framework of the Advanced Status, in particular in bringing regulatory frameworks closer and in implementing the many reforms announced, especially the justice reform launched in 2009, which is essential both to strengthen the state of law, and to improve the business climate.

The EU is Morocco’s first trading partner (accounting for 58% of all of its commercial exchanges in 2008). The impact of the economic crisis in Europe led to a 22.6% reduction of Moroccan imports to the EU in 2009, while imports from the EU fell by 17.6%, compared to 2008.


Morocco integrating into Euro-Mediterranean energy system

11 /07/ 2010

Asilah – Morocco is pushing for more integration into the Euro-Mediterranean energy system as a main component of its energy strategy, Moroccan Energy Minister Amina Benkhadra said on Saturday in Asilah.

Speaking at the opening of the 32nd Asilah International Cultural Festival, Benkhadra said Morocco could play an important role in regional energy cooperation, mainly via a strategic development of its energy transit and storage infrastructure.

The development of solar energy projects should be integrated into a much broader regional vision, she said at the three-day conference on “renewable energy: a decisive step towards human development”, held by the 25th Al Moatamid Ibn Abbad summer university.

She added that the Mediterranean solar plan, a leading project of the Union for the Mediterranean (UPM), will boost renewable energy’s development.

She also highlighted Morocco’s commitment to protecting the environment by devising the national charter for the environment and sustainable development.

HM king Mohammed VI launched, on November 2, an integrated program for solar energy-based electricity, she recalled, announcing the building, between 2015-2019, of several power plants totaling 2000MW.

The 25th Al Moatamid Ibn Abbad summer university includes several symposiums on “Arab cultures’ dialogue”, “contemporary arts and international financial crisis” and “diplomacy and culture.”


Middle East and North Africa: Industrial zones face differing challenges

02/07/ 2010

Industrial zones in the Middle East and North Africa region face differing challenges. Dr Neil Partrick considers those of Sohar (Oman) and Tanger-Med (Tangier, Morocco)

Industrial zones are not a new concept in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Egypt set up industrial parks in the free zones it established after the launch of its Open Door Policy in 1974 and in the new cities it developed to take Cairo’s overflow. The concept gained a new lease of life with the advent of Jubail and Yanbu in Saudi Arabia, but only adopted the characteristics of an industrial hub with the development of Jebel Ali. Now the idea is very much in vogue from the Arabian Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.

Oman’s Sohar Industrial Zone (SIZ) borrows from both Jebel Ali and Jubail in aiming to become an industrial hub based on petrochemicals. It is close to Sohar port, which has dedicated terminals for general goods, for containers and for storing and handling liquids, and has the space to expand. It is also close to the capital Muscat and has good links to the southern Gulf. But, perhaps most significantly, it is located in the Gulf of Oman, placing it south of the choke point of the Strait of Hormuz. This open access to the Arabian Sea, together with cheap readily available hydrocarbons, is a key selling point. Sohar boasts a refinery that provides feedstock for SIZ’s metals and petrochemical plants, a power plant and a waste water management facility; a part-government funded independent water and power project is under development.

However, energy availability is a major constraint on developments as Oman has limited energy resources. Oil production has stabilised, bucking a long-term trend, but will struggle to maintain 900,000 barrels a day. So the focus has switched to using non-associated gas as an industrial feedstock. Some SIZ petrochemical production – such as methanol – is already gas-fed, as would be the planned urea plant. But despite hopes for new gas discoveries, Oman’s domestic gas stocks are, like oil, limited. Given the need to conserve gas as well as oil to generate export revenue, any expansion of gas-fuelled production at SIZ will most likely depend on imported gas from Qatar through the Dolphin Project pipeline. However, Qatar has declared a moratorium on raising Dolphin’s throughput until at least 2011. Any hope of utilising Iranian gas falls foul of US opposition and Iran’s own output constraints.

SIZ has, nevertheless, begun to realise some of its heavy industry ambitions. Joint ventures with international companies have raised $10 billion. While the recession has set back some projects, a number are either under construction or active. Metals production is developing; a large aluminium smelter, operative since 2008, produces for export and can feed a planned downstream aluminium industry. Two steel plants are being built: one, Shadeed, is Emirati-owned and undergoing an attempted buyout from a UAE rival. The plant will convert iron pellets into steel products. The other plant, Sharq, will reprocess imported scrap metal. However, further metals expansion – for example, plans to double output from the aluminium smelter – are recession-prone, while feedstock limitations have hurt plans for a polyethylene plant and a second methanol plant.

A major drive behind SIZ’s expansion is job creation in a region that suffers from chronically high unemployment. Some 25,000 manufacturing jobs are, SIZ officials claim, to be created specifically for Omanis. The Omani government is keen to see the allocation of private sector manual jobs to Omanis who have traditionally preferred working in the public sector or in private sector management. Oman recently set national quotas on job categories within specific parts of the economy which, though set comparatively low for unskilled positions, could make Omani employment in SIZ less of the sinecure it is elsewhere in the Gulf. For foreign investors, the higher costs of employing Omanis are offset by exemptions to Omanisation, tax breaks and other incentives.

At the other end of the Arab world, Morocco is developing industrial hubs without the benefit of cheap energy supplies. Tangier-Med Industrial Zone (TMIZ) is its flagship special economic zone, one of a number created by the government to incentivise foreign participation. The TMIZ offers close proximity to the EU, comparatively low wage levels and a largely tax-free business environment. Furthermore, foreign companies can access the EU market under the Association Agreement and benefit from a free trade agreement with the US. The government hopes foreign companies will bring jobs and skills to a relatively impoverished part of the country where young Moroccans are rarely employed in industry and are more likely to be working in the informal economy or not at all.

TMIZ’s principal attraction is Tangier’s major port development. The international economic downturn has, however, ended some planned foreign financing and raised doubts about demand for the port and for goods produced in the TMIZ. However, the government is not cutting back on its expansion plans and recently guaranteed financing for a fourth container terminal. It believes the terminal will secure for Tangier a 25 per cent market share of Mediterranean container traffic that might otherwise be swallowed up by neighbouring countries building capacity to capitalise on the market upturn.

TMIZ is largely reliant on Renault car production and ancillary European suppliers. Not all associated production will be inside TMIZ – Faurecia, which manufacture seat trims, will operate near Rabat, for example. However, a small number of companies hold units at TMIZ where their output will range from cable manufacture to seat covers. The Renault car plant, as well as monopolising the first completed container terminal at Tangier port, will directly employ 6,000 Moroccans and, it is claimed, create another 30,000 jobs in feeder industries.

However, a French industry journal reported in summer 2009 that Renault has thrown in doubt original plans for a start up production (now postponed from 2010 to 2012) of 140,000 units, rising eventually to 400,000. But Carlos Ghosn, joint chairman of the Renault-Nissan alliance which will run the operation, continues to insist Renault will start production on the new revised schedule and Nissan will join later. The downturn, however, has seen Renault scale back funding of preparatory work despite recourse to a €200 million European Investment Bank loan. Fears mount about the condition of the European market into which the plant will be selling its output, and the timeline for the production of the first TMIZ cars could, therefore, slip back beyond 2012.

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Tetouan-shore: Morocco launches $ 111 million industrial zone

04 /07/ 2010

King Mohammed VI of Morocco has launched in Martil (north) the development works of the integrated industrial zone “TetouanShore”, worth nearly 1 billion dirhams ($ 111 mln).

The project, which is to generate some 10,000 jobs, is part of the implementation of the National Pact for Industrial Emergence (PNEI) that is meant to promote job-creation, increase the industry’s GDP, bring down trade deficit and attract more foreign investments.

On this occasion, the Monarch was provided with information on the TetouanShore project, to be completed in three phases over 2010-2019 on a 20-hectare area.

It is one of the first new-generation industrial platforms specializing in customer relationship management (call center), business processes outsourcing (BPO) and computer maintenance development.

The project aims at developing computer service activities and data processing as well as boosting the economic and technological development in the region.

The companies that will be set up in TetouanShore will mainly benefit from tax incentives and competitive costs.

The PNEI consists of several measures focusing on key industrial sectors: auto industry, high-tech industry, aeronautics, services, telecommunications, and corporate governance.

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USAID launches $ 34 million economic competitiveness programme in Morocco


Rabat – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a new programme dubbed ” Morocco’s economic competitiveness”, worth 34 million dollars.

The new program focuses on improving Morocco’s economic competitiveness by removing barriers to trade and investment and supporting key policy reforms, the USAID said in a statement.

The program also works to improve the capacity of key government institutions to implement these policies, supports public-private partnerships to promote workforce development opportunities and boosts increased agricultural growth and productivity by supporting water management and agriculture policies.

The program will be implemented in the regions of the Oriental and Doukkala, given their economic development and employment assets.

On the other hand,  The Tunis-based African Development Bank (AfDB) loaned Morocco 100 million Euros to finance phase IV of the Public Administration Reform Support Programme (PARSP IV).

The programme aims at promoting strong economic growth and sustainable development with the aim to strengthen the economy’s competitiveness while ensuring medium-term macro-economic viability, AfDB’s statement said.

The programme is also meant to improve government efficiency in budget and human resource management, consolidate and control the civil service wage bill and streamline administrative procedures by developing electronic government.

“The intermediate beneficiaries are government services, households and private economic operators,” the statement added.

The PARSP IV is co-financed with the World Bank and the European Union and is in line with the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness by supporting the implementation of reforms designed by Moroccan authorities to modernize their public administration, the statement concluded.


Morocco: Opportunities in Agriculture and Fisheries Sectors

01/07/ 2010

In the last five years, Morocco has been able to increase its exports of food produce to the markets of the European Union significantly.

The country has been particularly successful in exporting certain produce which are grown in abundance, such as courgettes, peppers, beans, melons, clementines and tomatoes, which can all be found on sale in the UK.

The quantity of pepper exported to the EU has increased by 92% over the last five years; tomato exports increased by 78% over the same period and courgettes by 43%.

The details of this record of success were presented by Moroccan industry representative Younes Zrikem, Managing Director of Groupe Azura, in the workshop on Agro-business and Fisheries Products at the Morocco-British Trade Day.

He stated that the growth in exports could be attributed to a number of factors. Better promotion was one of the factors, but the number one issue is food security, the priority of customers and demanded by EU and retailers. Food security is taken very seriously by Moroccan producers as well, Zrikem stated.

Moroccan agricultural production has seen great improvements in recent years stimulated by the government which has provided investment and subsidies to producers in order to encourage them to acquire equipment to improve irrigation and conserve vital water supplies.

Moroccan production methods receive certification which endorses the fact that chemicals are minimised and forbidden chemicals are not used. Such certification is certainly essential to enable produce to be exported.

The most important region for fruit and vegetable growing in Morocco is Agadir, Zrikem told the workshop. This region was receiving investment to enable improvements; for example, in April Morocco signed a deal with the IFC to conduct a feasibility study on its plans to set up a desalination plant in Agadir.

In addition, land for agricultural development was being made available for investors and new stretches of land were being identified with potential to be developed and opened up for productive farming.

Moroccan producers were adopting new growing techniques and the quality of fruit and vegetable produce was being enhanced as a result of such efforts.

One factor whose importance was recognised is the need to extend the shelf life of produce. Morocco had achieved success in these endeavours, illustrated by the fact that Moroccan tomatoes exported to Russia could now be obtained as far away as Siberia during the winter season, Zrikem said.

Using tomatoes to show the variety and sophistication of Moroccan production, he said that this should not be seen as one product as producers had increased the choice of varieties of tomatoes to meet niche market demands. The country was now successful at growing cherry, plum and on-the-vine tomatoes, all kinds which were popular among European consumers.

Morocco had made great progress in improving logistics and integration of production processes, which in turn led to greater reliability of its produce. Growers were now also exporters as the whole production process had become integrated.

The country was also encouraging the regrouping and merging of producers in an attempt to create big players to make the industry better placed to compete in international markets.

A key focus was on improving packaging with new packing houses opening and new methods adopted.

The sector was managed by strong quality control and food safety regulations with the regular inspection of produce at packing houses prior to export.

Great improvements in transportation have been made in recent years to make Moroccan exports less dependent on freight by truck. There were now seven sea lines from Agadir to Europe and by the end of 2010 some 40% of fruit and vegetable exports would be exported by sea.

Despite all these measures, there remained considerable potential to boost the number of Moroccan exports to the EU and UK markets. Moroccan firms were seeking to organise platforms for logistics and sales in European countries as the producers realise that there is a need to be closer to their customers. There was an opportunity for UK firms to partner with Moroccan producers to enhance access to the market.

In terms of branding Moroccan produce, the speaker felt that simply by using Moroccan labels would not improve sales in the UK.

Unlike some other countries in Europe such as France where stores sold produce under Moroccan labels, supermarkets in the UK preferred to sell produce under their own brand name.

Opportunities for Moroccan produce to supply to the UK were addressed by Neil Wyn Jones, International Trade Advisor with UKTI, who focused on main trends in the UK food market.

The UK market for food was very large, he said, valuing it at £134 billion in total, of which £26bn was taken by fruit and vegetables.

Due to lifestyle changes, UK consumers were doing less cooking and there was a growth in demand for convenience produce; at the same time, a high priority was given to nutritional products and healthy eating habits were high. Consumers were also concerned about environmental impact of food, which meant that excess packaging and degradability of packing materials used were seen as important.

Fair trade produce were highly regarded, Wyn Jones stated.

Moroccan producers could take advantage of such requirements by marketing their produce accordingly. For example, food miles were recognised as important which gave Morocco an advantage because of the country’s close proximity to Europe.

The final speaker in this session, Nigel Jenney from the Fresh Produce Consortium, a UK trade association representing some 900 firms, looked in detail at the market for fresh produce.

UK consumers were looking interested in quality produce, good value, healthy eating and used to variety available all year round. These requirements offered market opportunities for Moroccan producers, he said.

The audience raised specific questions about the scale of organic production in Morocco and learned that few growers specialise in organic produce for export as yet, although it was seen as important as an ongoing project.

Although the UK retail market was dominated by a few big companies, Moroccan suppliers were urged not only to look at the large corporations as they might find it easier to break into the market by linking up with smaller players in the food services, catering and restaurant sector.


Morocco raises 2010 growth forecast to 4 pct

30/06/ 2010

CASABLANCA, June 30 (Reuters) – Morocco’s economy will grow by an estimated 4 percent this year on strength in mining, manufacturing and construction, the head of the government’s High Planning Commission said on Wednesday.

That would be below last year’s expansion of 4.9 percent but faster than a 3.5 percent official forecast made at the start of the year, suggesting Morocco is fending off a persistently weak global economy better than expected.

Two years of slowing growth are likely to end in 2011 as the North African kingdom’s economy expands by around 4.3 percent, High Planning Commission head Ahmed Lahlimi Alami said at a press conference in Casablanca, which is Morocco’s economic capital.

“National economic growth in 2011 will be 4.3 percent, with the non-farming sector of the economy growing by 5.4 percent,” Alami said.

Farming and fisheries would contract by 2.7 percent in 2011, compared with a deeper decline of 7.5 percent expected this year, and growth of 29 percent in 2009, he said.

Moroccan farm incomes swing widely from year to year because the sector depends heavily on fickle rains. The country achieved a record cereals harvest last year.

The global economic slowdown has complicated Morocco’s attempts to create more jobs in industry and services to reduce reliance on farming, and tackle youth unemployment and poverty.

Its economy was growing at a pace of 5.6 percent in 2008 when the downturn began to hit exports and inward investment.

The government has lowered taxes and raised state salaries since then to prop up domestic demand.

Alami said that economic stimulus had added 0.8 percent to growth last year and 1.2 percent this year.

He forecast the non-farm economy would recover dramatically this year, growing 5.9 percent compared with 1.3 percent in 2009 when recessions in foreign markets, especially Europe, hit demand for its textiles, auto parts, phosphates and services.

The bulk of the growth this year would come from increasing domestic consumption, Alami said, while exports would weaken by a further 1.4 percent, compared with a 1.9 percent contraction in 2009.

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MOROCCO: Many opt for American-style education, moving away from the French mold

29/06/ 2010

The 259 students who graduated this year from the Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco’s only English-language college, are practically guaranteed a job — unlike those Moroccans who went through the country’s French-inspired education system.

Commencement weekend at AUI, as it is commonly known, is not a very Moroccan affair. The atmosphere at the campus, set amid the pine and cedar forests of the Mid-Atlas mountain range, is part Swiss ski village, part Ivy League college. The university is in Ifrane, a mountain resort originally built for the French colonial elite wishing to escape the summer heat of Casablanca and Rabat. On a recent weekend in June, it was beset by a different kind of elite: AUI’s class of 2010 and their proud parents.

It was quickly obvious from the speeches that AUI did things the American way.

“AUI gives you not just a degree but a whole new personality,” said alumni President Khalid Baddou.

“AUI is more than a university; it is a community with an amazing culture. Here, you are given the weapons to face the real world with,” said science and engineering graduate Ahmad Arjdane.

The underlying message was loud and clear: This is what you miss out on if you study at traditional French-inspired universities in Morocco.

“I lost all hope with the French system while I was in high school,”  said Fahd El Hassan, a 2009 graduate. “It is all about memorizing, not about learning.”

El Hassan was invited to speak at this year’s commencement because he had won third place in the 2008 Imagine Cup, a student competition organized by Microsoft and Unesco to further sustainable businesses through technology. This year’s AUI graduates included winners of the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarschip and the Google Computer Excellence Award in computer science.

“Morocco has long been handicapped because it has been so oriented toward Europe and France,” said the dean of the science and engineering school, Ahmed Legrouri. “Let’s face it: Where can you go with just French these days? France, Switzerland and Belgium? Even in France, technical publications are in English these days.”

The former Moroccan king, Hassan II — although himself a strong Francophile — was among the first to stress the need for Moroccans to learn English to help ensure international success. Fate lent a helping hand. In 1995, Morocco’s beaches were threatened by an oil spill from a foreign tanker off the coast. The oil eventually drifted away, but by then king Fahd of Saudi Arabia had written a $50-million check to come to Morocco’s aid. The money was used to found AUI.

The university likes to boast that Moroccan employers are falling over themselves to hire AUI graduates. A recent survey by the alumni association said 98% of AUI graduates had found a job, started a business or were working a master’s degree within six months of graduation.

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Renewable energy

Morocco inaugurates largest wind farm in Africa


With the recent inauguration of the largest wind farm in Africa, Morocco has put another brick in the edifice of its clean energy strategy.

Inaugurated on Monday by HM king Mohammed VI, the 410-ha farm called “Dahr Saadane” is located in the town of Melloussa near the northern city of Tangier.

Worth 250 million Euros, it includes 165 wind turbines, 165 support struts, and 4 meteorological stations. It will cover 2.5% of domestic energy needs.

The energy produced in Tangier’s farm will save 126,000 metric tons of oil per year and will significantly reduce CO2 emissions (about 360,000 tons).

This project is co-financed by the European Investment Bank (80 million Euros), Spain’s Official Credit Institute (100 million Euros), German Kreditanstalt fur Wienderaufbau (50 million) and the Moroccan National Electricity Office (20 million Euros).

On this occasion, Energy Minister Amina Benkhedra presented the overall Moroccan integrated wind energy program worth 3 billion Euros (MAD 31.5 bln) to the sovereign.

This program provides for building new wind energy farms which will raise wind power from a current 280 MW to 2,000 MW by the year 2020.

This project comes to accompany the USD 9 billion solar energy one. According to the energy minister, both projects will help Morocco save 2.5 million tons of combustible oil and avoid the emission of about 9 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.

Morocco, which imports most of its energy needs, aims at producing 42% of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2020.

Benkhadra told the king that solar, wind and hydraulic energy will contribute 14% each.

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Morocco auto industry gears up for business with UK

25 /06/ 2010

Moroccan-British relations have made significant headway in recent years but they are still gathering significant momentum. This was the positive message delivered in London by the Managing Director of Maroc Export, Saad Benabdallah when addressing the recent Morocco-British Trade Day in London.

Today, the official said, some 200 Moroccan companies export to the UK; on the other hand, 80 UK firms are operating in Morocco and there exists 150 trading partners.

In addition, the UK was the 4th largest investor in the country and the 4th largest provider of tourists.

Morocco was seeking to boost its exports generally and was targeting the UK as a privileged partner and market open to doing business.

A new business model

In the respect, it was adopting a new business model which would allow UK firms to do direct business with Moroccan producers without having to rely on brokers and intermediaries, the Maroc Export MD stated.

It was anticipated that this new method of one-to-one business contacts would increase efficiency and reduce the costs.

The challenge was to increase knowledge and raise awareness among the British business community of the advantages for sourcing their produce in Morocco; for example, UK imports perishable food produce from as far afield as Latin America and might find it more advantageous to import more of its produce from Morocco whose proximity to Europe was far closer.

Mr Larbi Belarbi, President of the Moroccan Association of Automotive Trade & Industry (AMICA), explained the growth of the country’s automobile industry over the last few years.

Morocco was rapidly becoming a platform of the automotive industry and was looking towards exporting to the UK.

Some 80% of the investment in the car industry in Morocco came from Europe, the official said. The opening of the Renault plant in the area of Tanger Med’s industrial zone was an important step forward and had boosted the development of skilled human resources so that engineering expertise in the car sector was now flourishing among the Moroccan workforce.

Belarbi said that by 2015 Morocco would be able to produce some 500 thousand cars.

Julianne Furman, from the US-Canadian company Polydesign Systems, shared her experiences of working in the Moroccan car industry with conference delegates.

Producing car interior parts in Morocco for clients such as Land Rover and Ford, Ms Furman said her company did 80% of its business with the UK, until the downturn of 2008-2009. Recently, there had been a pick up and as of 2010 the UK represented 45% of the company’s turnover.

She identified some key factors contributing towards the company’s success which were relevant for trading with Morocco: these included the consistent ability to meet delivery deadlines; the use of English language when communicating with UK customers had been vital; finally, she mentioned the reduced operating costs that resulted from operating in a free zone in Morocco.

She urged UK firms to look to Morocco not just to source products, but stressed that Morocco was in need of UK expertise to help it develop the textiles related products for the motor industry.

The Morocco-British Trade Day was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in London on 21 June. It was organised by the Moroccan Embassy in London, Maroc Export and the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce.

Around 200 people took part in the conference which organises hope will become an annual event.

The conference brought together business representatives from the two countries to explore new partnership opportunities in some high growth sectors in Morocco – textiles & leather, agribusiness & fisheries products and the automotive industry.

A high level delegation from the Kingdom of Morocco was headed by the country’s Minister of Foreign Trade H E Abdellatiff Mazouz, who delivered a keynote address outlining the major new openings for boosting trade and business partnerships with the country.

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Foreign trade

Government committed to improve ailing balance of payments, minister


The government is committed to improve the balance of payments and increase foreign assets, said Wednesday the Minister of Economy and Finance, Salaheddine Mezouar.

Speaking at the House of Representatives, Mezouar said that his department is working had to undertake further structural reforms, particularly in terms of foreign trade, and improve the country’s business climate to attract more FDIs.

He recalled in this respect the government’s efforts to mitigate the impact of global crisis on foreign currency reserves, with the help of the committee in charge of following up economic developments and proposing appropriate measures to overcome the effects of the crisis.

In fact, last week 2010, Bank Al Maghreb’s foreign assets dropped MAD 396 million. Standing at MAD 165.8 billion, foreign currency reserves remained below the level registered at the end of December 2009 by MAD 9.9 billion.

At the end of April 2010, Bank Al Maghreb’s foreign currency reserves represented 6 months and 14 days of imports.

Regarding the measures taken by the government to address the decline of foreign investments and transfers by Moroccans residing abroad (MRE), the minister mentioned removing transfer fees, and the encouragement of investment through the state’s commitment to pay up to 10% of the value of the investment.

Standing at MAD 16.3 billion, the transfers made by Moroccans living abroad (MRE), in the year to April, rose 11.9%, while receipts of foreign investments and loans, for their part, stood at MAD 6.4 billion, registering a drop of 40.2%.

Concerning foreign trade, the deficit reached MAD 53.2 billion at the end of April 2010, falling 15% compared to the same period last year. The cover rate for its part reached 43.2% against 44.4%.

Standing at MAD 93.7 billion at the end of April 2010, imports registered a year-on-year increase of 12.6%. Thus energy, raw material, semi-finished and consumer products increased 51.8%, 7.9%, 15.5% and 4.8% respectively, while equipment and food products decreased 1% and 2.1% respectively.

For their part, exports reached MAD 40.5 billion, rising 9.7% compared to the same period last year, as a result of a hike of 60.7% in phosphates and derivatives sales, which reached MAD 8.7 billion. Other products’ exports marked a sight improvement standing at MAD 31.7 billion.


Morocco, Britain determined to strengthen trade relations


Britain reiterated on Monday its commitment to further strengthen its cooperation and trade relations with Morocco.

The British government is committed to working closely with Morocco to strengthen these relations, said the Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, Alistair Burt, at the opening of the first Moroccan-British day on strengthening bilateral trade.

Hailing Morocco’s efforts to develop its economy, Burt stressed that his country will make every effort to consolidate relations with North African country.

For her part, Morocco’s ambassador to Britain, Chrifa Lalla Joumala Alaoui, said that trade between the two countries reached £ 1 billion in 2008.

She added that the United Kingdom is Morocco’s 7th customer and 9th supplier, noting that Morocco is at the heart of British operators’ agenda as a true partner.

Last year, Morocco had organised a conference at the headquarters of the Mansion House to showcase investment opportunities in Morocco. The conference brought together over 500 British and international businessmen.

In the same vein, Morocco launched on Monday its first international media campaign to promote foreign investment in the country.

The campaign will include advertisement on TV channels, magazines and daily newspapers, mainly in France and Spain, which already accounts for 50% of foreign direct investments in Morocco.

According to the Minister of Industry, trade and Modern Technologies, Ahmed Reda Chami, the campaign will give Morocco a new image

He added that the main objective of this move is to convince investors that Morocco is not only a tourist destination but a land of business opportunities as well, given its economic, industrial and technological potential.

For his part, Fathallah Sijilmassi, Head of the Moroccan Agency for the Development Investment (MADI), underlined that this investment promotion initiative is meant to highlight Morocco’s image as a regional hub that provides efficient logistics and access to a large consumer market.

Created in January 2009, MADI aims at promoting investments in Morocco and attracting foreign investors.


Morocco for Competitive, Stable, Equitable Energy Markets in Euro-Med Zone


Algiers – Energy is the bedrock of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership to enhance the region’s energy efficiency and competitiveness based on competitive, stable, equitable and transparent energy markets and sound integration of economies, said on Sunday Moroccan Minister of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment

Amina Benkhadra, who addressed the ministerial council on the project of the gradual integration of electricity markets of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia in the EU’s electricity market, added that the environmental viability, technological cooperation and socio-economic development are a priority in the Euro-Mediterranean energy partnership.

The minister stressed the need for stronger Euro-Mediterranean partnership through strategic dialogue on energy policies between the Euro-Med partners especially as world demand for energy is ever-growing.

In this regard, she emphasized the need to adopt strategies, policies and systems which focus on sustainable energy, as well as to set up frameworks likely to improve investment climate towards securing diversity of energy sources and best practices in this field.

On demand for energy, particularly electricity, in the Maghreb countries which is expected to grow by 6 to 7% by 2020, the minister said it is imperative to build new production capacities, noting that in Morocco the share of electricity generation from solar, wind and water sources will account for 42% of power by 2020, up from 33% now.


Morocco: Agri-food leading export activity

20 /06/ 2010

The industry of agri-food and fisheries play a major role in the Moroccan economic. It contributes with 16% in the gross domestic product and 20% in exports. The sector comprises 2,050 production units spread over the whole territory and employs 108,000 employees. In 2008, the value of production/exportation reached respectively 6,900 million Euros and 1.140 million Euros. The added value on products generated 1,620 million Euros for a total investment of 310 million Euros.

This industry is boosting: the first 5 exportation categories (fruit and vegetables; fresh and prepared fish; olive oil, spices and nuts; and prepared fruit and vegetables) make a quarter of Moroccan exportations.

Agri-food and fishery exported up to 1,152,121 tons in 2009. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the first exported categories with 40% of total volume, followed by citrus (25%), fishery products (24%) and transformed fruits and vegetables (11%).

Processed fishery and agriculture products made an amount of 100 million Euros. The medicinal and aromatic plants come first with a total value of 55 million Euros.

Fresh fruits and vegetables

This is a leading activity with 786,606 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables exported in 2009. It contributes with 20% of annual exportations and 18% in the Gross Domestic Product, on average. This favorable situation is reflected through good positions. Indeed, Morocco is the:

o    10th worldwide exporter of tomatoes, leader product in the Moroccan truck farming

o     2nd worldwide exporter of French beans

o    11th worldwide exporter of strawberry, several varieties of which are known by their precocity (Chandler, Guariguette, Douglas, Osso Grande and Selva)

o    12th worldwide exporter of melon.

Morocco is the 2nd worldwide citrus exporter

Second largest clementine exporter after Spain and the sixth largest exporter of oranges, Morocco is the 2nd largest worldwide citrus exporter. With 483,147 tons exported in 2009, the sector participates with 35% in the exportation volume. It is to be noted that 39% of Moroccan citrus exportation go straight to the European Union.

·    Europe is the first Moroccan client with 93% of the tonnage.·    Morocco has been engaged for several years now in the organic industry: Europe is the largest importer of organic products, in particular France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Transformed fruits and vegetables

206 tons of transformed fruits and vegetables were exported in 2009. Many of these transformed products are exported in various types. Frozen fruits and canned olives are the two most exported products.

Europe is the first client of Morocco in terms of transformed fruit and vegetables with an importation rate of 72%:

Seafood products

With 462,972 tons exported in 2008, the industry of sea products is the third industry in the Moroccan exportation activity, after the sectors of fruit and vegetables and citrus. Oriented mostly towards exportation and highly diversified, the sector plays a major role in the Moroccan economy.

Boasting 3,500 km of coastlines, Morocco offers a wide variety of seafood products (anchovies, sardines, mackerel, tuna, pelagic fish, cephalopods, molluscs, crustaceans, fishmeal, agar-agar), and preparation methods (canned, semi -canned, fresh, frozen …). More than 70% of landed fish is processed locally and exported to over 100 destinations.

Morocco stands out as the largest African producer and the first worldwide exporter of sardines. Sardine represents 89% of exported canned fish.

Morocco is considered as an important regional platform with its efficient production facilities, know-how and experienced workforce. The adopted production processes meet the more demanding international quality standards. Strong with its experience, Morocco now offers a wide variety of sea products, known worldwide by their authenticity and flavor.

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Morocco, UK Strengthening Economic Relations

18 /06/ 2010

In order to strengthen relations between Morocco and the United Kingdom, the Moroccan Embassy in London organizes the “Moroccan British Trade Day.

This event is part of an ambitious program with the aim of promoting the image of Morocco in the United Kingdom, encouraging investments, promoting exports and increasing tourist flows.

The Moroccan-British trade relations are governed by an EU Association Agreement which entered into force on March 1st, 2000.

The signing of an agreement between “Maroc Export” and its British counterpart “UKTI” is likely to foster trade and build a fruitful partnership between economic operators from the two countries.

Bilateral trade exceeded the threshold of one billion pounds in 2008, including 374.4 millions of exportats and 632.4 millions of imports from the United Kingdom.

Great Britain is the 7th Moroccan customer and the 9th supplier, with a 3% share in the total imports and exports of Morocco with the world. Morocco is the first trading partner of the United Kingdom in the Maghreb region.

The Moroccan exportations include mainly citrus products, fruits, vegetables, canned vegetables and fish as well as ready-made cloths, hosiery items, electrical cables and vehicles’ spare parts…

It’s worth noting that products imported from Great Britain are very diverse. The main imported products are: oil, machines and equipments, drugs, finished consumer goods, etc.

Despite the remarkable dynamism of the Morocco-British relations during 2009, their commercial trade have been marked by a salient decrease with less than 700 M£ value. A significant regression of exportations from Morocco to the United Kingdom also took place due to many factors: the world economic crisis, the exacerbated competition with Asian countries and the impact of the pound’s value decrease. The sector underwent as well the closure of many plants in Rabat and Tangier that used to supply this commodity to the United Kingdom.

In order to reinforce the importance of this sector,  Maroc Export organized, in the United Kingdom, several events such as roads shows and the Moroccan fair “Maroc in Mode”.

The agricultural sector has also attracted a special interest. The participation of Morocco, for the first time, as a guest of honor, in the World Fruit and Vegetable Show (WFV) in October 2009, was an opportunity to introduce the Moroccan Offer in terms of fresh products during an important conference and to present the vast opportunities Morocco offers to British investors. A large delegation of British businessmen visited thus the international agriculture fair held in Meknès (SIAM).

It must be noted that the reinforcement of the Moroccan British Business Council (MBBC), set up in 2001, gave new impetus to economic cooperation between the two countries. The council is considered now as an authentic think-tank thanks to the caliber and high profile of the dignitaries and businessmen of its board.

The “Moroccan British Trade Day” is organized as part of “Morocco Export Plus” strategy, which aims at strengthening the exports potentials and gradually positioning Moroccan products in several key markets, such as the United Kingdom.

“Morocco Export Plus” is a strategy based on a clear vision of development and promotion of the existing production offer, orientation towards important sectors, prospecting of more promising markets and assistance provided to the relevant players through giving support to the concerned companies via a program concluded with the private sector.

From a commercial standpoint, “Morocco Export Plus” targets three market categories: the strategic markets, consisting of countries in a position to accept large amounts of Moroccan exported products, adjacent markets and niche markets.

The strategic markets absorb, on their own, 60% to 65% of the promotional effort. The United Kingdom is one of these markets.

Concretely, « Morocco Export Plus » is based on three axes:

1-     It aims to consolidate the traditional markets and to develop the exportations of existing products.

2-     It is expected to broaden the targeted markets and promote the new offers on traditional markets, increasing the export turnover from MAD 114 MM in 2008 to MAD 229 MM in 2015.

3-    The third and last stage of “Morocco Export Plus” aims at globalizing Moroccan companies, widening significantly the exportation target zone and promoting a wide range of Moroccan products.  In 2018 export turnover is expected to reach MAD 327 MM.

For this purpose, two dates were chosen to achieve these objectives: 2015 and 2018. In terms of exportation this effort will help generating 174 billion Dirhams in 2018 instead of 153 billion Dirhams according to the curve of natural growth.

The United Kingdom is one of the five important exportation markets for several sectors of the Moroccan economy, particularly the sectors of agri-food and automotive parts.

As such, the United Kingdom absorbed in 2007 17.6% of Moroccan auto parts exportation. No wonder, the “Morocco Export Plus” strategy targets the British market and considers it as a market with strong mid-term potential for this sector.

The same for the agri-food sector. The United Kingdom was defined by the “Morocco Export Plus” strategy as a priority market, particularly for grapes, strawberries, clementine and melon, which got more attention in the context of Morocco’s participation in the annual “World Fruit and Vegetable Show” in London.

Furthermore, Morocco was engaged for several years now in the organic sector, a niche that is attracting more and more British importers.


£10 million Investment – Nexans opens aircraft cable manufacturing plant in Morocco

18 /06/ 2010

Morocco (Mohammedi) – Nexans, a worldwide leader in the cable industry, opened in Mohammedia (north of Casablanca), a new manufacturing plant of aircraft cables, worth 10 million euros.

The plant comes following an agreement signed in 2008 between Nexans and Airbus for the supply of advanced cables for Airbus-manufactured aircrafts (A320, A350 and A 380).

The new plant is Nexans’ third dedicated to aircraft cables, along with similar facilities based in France and the United States.

The facility, which spans over an area of 3,000 m², is expected to manufacture 21,000 km of cables per year, with 70% to be exported.

Forty-seven jobs were created and 2,300 hours of training have been delivered to newly hired engineers, technicians and operators.

Nexans has redeveloped the Mohammedia plant to accommodate a production area of 3,000 m² designed to manufacture 21,000 km of cables per year, with 70 percent to be exported. 47 new job positions have been created and 2,300 hours of training have been delivered to newly hired engineers, technicians and operators.

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Morocco’s solar power project draws international interest


Morocco’s USD 9 billion solar power project has drawn more interest than expected, as about international 200 firms have submitted their expressions of interest for the first phase, said the head of Morocco’s solar power agency, Mustapha Bakkoury, in a press conference.

The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) launched in May a call for tender for building a solar power plan in the vicinity of the southern city of Ouarzazate with a capacity of 500 megawatts (MW).

According to Bakkoury, the investors who have expressed their interest in this project, which will produce enough power for about 90,000 households, are from a number of countries which have experience in this field.

He explained that these include “power utilities, developers, industrialists and financial groups”, but he stopped short of naming any of them.

The final bids are expected in November, while the winners will be declared by the end of this year.

Concerning the state of progress, Bakkoury underlined that all the related studies are underway, and judicial, fiscal, financial and institutional advisers have already been identified.

This overall project seeks to achieve a 2,000-megawatt production capacity by the year 2020. It is expected to ensure an annual production capacity of 4500 GW, that is to say 18% of the current national production.

It will be built on five sites in the southern regions of Ouarzazate, Ain Bni Mathar, Foum Al Oued, Boujdour and Sebkhat Tah. The first power station will be operational by the year 2015 and the whole project will be completed by the end of 2019.

Morocco intends to produce 40% of its energy needs from renewable sources by the year 2020.

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WB Loans Morocco $211.5m to Support Education Reform, Rural Roads Programme


Rabat – Morocco and the World Bank (WB) signed, on Thursday in Rabat, agreements under which the Bank grants the kingdom three loans of $211.5 million to support education reform and rural roads programme and optimise farming irrigation in the Oum Errabii basin.

The first loan of $60 million is intended to support the implementation of the Education Emergency Programme 2009-12, which aims to accelerate the education reform process, drawing on lessons learned from the previous decade’s programs.

The second, worth $70 million, aims at modernising farming irrigation in the Oum Errabii basin.

As to the third loan ($81.5 million), it is designed to support the implementation of the Second National Rural Roads Project, which covers the period 2005-2012.

Salaheddine Mezouar, Moroccan Economy and Finance Minister, who signed the first two agreements along with Françoise Clottes, the Bank’s resident representative in Morocco, voiced satisfaction with cooperation ties between Morocco and the WB.

He added that these relations, which have been boosted over the past years, have made the Bank one of the major donors supporting the Kingdom’s efforts to promote economic growth and combat poverty.

For her part, Clottes hailed the partnership relationships between the two parties.

These relations, the two officials said at the signing ceremony, are governed by a strategic partnership framework (Country Partnership Strategy -CPS 2010-2013) under which the Bank’s Board of Directors approved seven loans of $729 million covering reform programmes and investment projects.

The Bank has recently said, in a statement carried by its website, that     the education development policy loan falls in line with the new CPS 2010-2013 for Morocco “which spells out the education sector reform as a key priority as part of its two strategic objectives”.


Morocco: World Bank Supports Education Program

10 /06/ 2010

The World Bank’s Board of Directors approved today a US$60 million Development Policy Loan (DPL) to support the Government of Morocco in the implementation of the “Education Emergency Program 2009–12” to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery and educational outcomes.

The new project is the first in a proposed programmatic series of two DPLs.  It would support key initial institutional and regulatory measures as well as the introduction of new approaches to improve service delivery effectiveness and efficiency.

“Although Morocco achieved significant results in closing gender and urban/rural gaps in access to primary education, major issues persist in quality of education and educational outcomes at all levels of the school system”, noted Ms Françoise Clottes, Acting Country Director for the Maghreb countries. “Through this loan, the World Bank is committed to working with the Government and other donors to support the implementation of an ambitious program that aims at increasing access further and raising the overall quality of services.”

Improving the quality of outcomes in the education sector is a key priority for Morocco. To overcome the challenges faced by the education sector, the Government embarked on a comprehensive reform of the education and training system, with the promulgation of the National Education and Training Charter (CNEF) in 1999; declaring 2000-2009 the decade for education and training; and establishing education and training as a national priority. The implementation of the program reforms was supported over the past four years by a World Bank sector-wide approach (SWAp) operation, Basic Education Reform Support Project (PARSEM).

More recently, a bold Education Emergency Program (EEP), spanning the period 2009-12, was drawn up by the Government to accelerate the education reform process, drawing on lessons learned from the previous decade’s programs.

The fundamental guiding principle of the EEP places the student at the heart of the education and training system. In this context, this Education Development Policy Loan (EDPL) would support the Government in its efforts to improve the accumulation of human capital through the implementation of policies and measures designed to: (i) achieve universal basic education; (ii) improve system performance (teaching, management and stewardship); and (iii) improve mobilization and utilization of resources. The project will support essential policy measures and actions while reinforcing results-based approaches.

The EDPL falls in line with the new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS 2010-2013) for Morocco which spells out the education sector reform, and in particular improving access and quality, as a key priority as part of its two strategic objectives of “Enhancing growth, competitiveness and employment”, and “Improving service delivery to citizens”.

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Morocco provides many investment opportunities, British official


There are many investment opportunities for British businessmen in Morocco, said Deputy Chief Executive of the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), Susan Haird, in an interview with MAP news agency.

Haird mentioned many sectors that may interest British investors, such as ICT, education, agriculture, financial services, building and renewable energies.

The British official, who visited Morocco on June 1-4, underlined that Morocco is a very good trading partner, adding that trade between the two countries reached £3 billion last year.

She explained that her visit mainly aims at exploring opportunities to further strengthen trade relations between the two countries.

“There are many Britain-based companies investing in Morocco and there is a very active British chamber of commerce here in Morocco,” said the deputy who had visited some British businesses during this visit.

Hailing Morocco’s National Initiative for Human development (INDH)”, she stressed that the country is “doing great things to eradicate poverty.”

As for the economic crisis, Haird said that Morocco has resisted well, recalling that Morocco’s economy grew 5% last year and is expected to grow by about 3% this year.

She pointed out, however, that Morocco’s export sector has been affected a lot, inviting it to diversify its economic activities to serve growth.

Concerning Britain, which suffered from the crisis, the official underscored that “many of the economic indicators are very strong now and people are feeling very optimistic.”


DELL Opens in Morocco its Biggest Business Center in Europe, Middle East & Africa

08 /06/ 2010

Morocco (Casablanca) – DELL, a multinational information technology corporation, inaugurated on Monday in Casablanca its biggest business center in Europe, Middle-East and Africa region.

Dell’s chief financial officer, Brian Gladden underlined that Morocco “represents a strategic investment for DELL” as the country experiences one of the highest growth rates and has a qualified multilingual workforce in the ICTs field.

“Our corporation is satisfied and reiterates commitment with Morocco where we witnessed several successes since 2003,” Gladden said.

Spanning over an area of 20,000 square meters, the new business center will provide 1,800 job opportunities.

The new facility will export products to the French, Spanish, Italian and Canadian francophone markets, in addition to emerging countries in Europe, the Middle-East and Africa.

The inauguration ceremony was chaired by Industry, Trade and New Technologies Minister Ahmed Reda Chami.


Morocco: Business Opportunities Attract British Companies

06 /06/ 2010

Morocco (Rabat) – Morocco is brimming with business opportunities in different fields, notably ICT, education, agriculture, financial services, building and renewable energies, important sectors in which British companies are interested, Deputy Chief Executive of the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), Susan Haird said.

“Morocco is a very good trading partner for the United Kingdom,” Haird told the Moroccan News Agency MAP at the end of a four-day visit to Morocco (June 1-4), during which she met with Moroccan and British businessmen and visited several British businesses operating in Morocco, such as Shell, Uniliver, Scott Wilson, G4S…etc.

She underlined that “there is a lot of goodwill from both sides” to further promote their trade relations, adding that trade between the two countries reached 3 billion pounds last year. “There is always scope to do more, and we are hoping to do more.”

The British official added that there are many opportunities for British companies to do their business in Morocco as “Casablanca seeks to make itself a regional hub for finance.”

“I’m here to see what the opportunities are for strengthening trade between our countries,” Haird said, adding that the two countries have “good” trade relations.

The UKTI Deputy Chief Executive said the UK is a “very important investor” in Morocco, adding that there are many Britain-based companies investing in Morocco and there is a very active British chamber of commerce for Morocco.

The British official commended Morocco’s large-scale anti-poverty programme, “the National Initiative for Human development (INDH)”, saying that it “is extremely important” to fight poverty and develop human capital.

The country is “doing great things to eradicate poverty,” She said.

In this respect, she underlined that the “British investors will be interested to take part in this initiative, as part of their cooperative social responsibilities programs.”

Morocco’s Economy Resisted the Crisis Extremely Well

“Morocco’s economy has resisted the crisis extremely well,” Haird said, adding that “your banks were not hurt as some western banks were.”

She recalled that Morocco’s economy grew by 5% last year and is expected to grow by about 3% this year. “It’s a very high growth rate in this troubled time,” she stressed.

She noted, however, that some of Morocco’s export markets suffered from the economic downturn, stressing the need to find other means to achieve growth, such as encouraging domestic consumption and looking to new growing markets and traditional partners which are also growing.

Britain Has Emerged From Recession

“Likewise many countries, Britain has suffered from the global recession,” Haird said, adding that “now, we have emerged from recession: we had two consecutive quarters of growth, many of the economic indicators are very strong and people are feeling very optimistic.”

“I’m confident that Britain’s economy has returned to growth and will continue to grow”, Haird noted, stressing that the country “has very good foundations for economy, very competitive companies and lots of very strong sectors.”

Talking about the ways out of recession, she said that “the UK government is placing a lot of emphasis on the import/export-led growth because a number of our traditional trading partners, including some of our EU partners, have indeed been in recession.”

“I do believe that export is key to recovery,” she said, adding that the UK companies “have been looking for less traditional export markets and see if they can export their exports there.” (MAP)

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Moroccan-British Trade Day: Insight into Export Potential

19 /05/ 2010

On 21 June, the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with Maroc Export will present Moroccan-British Trade, an event designed to give an insight into Morocco’s export potential.

The event will take place in the presence of H H Princess Lalla Joumala Alaoui, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the UK and H E Mr Abdellatif Maazouz, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Trade.

The focus will be on three leading sectors which offer real potential for investment and trade: the garment and textile industry; agriculture and fisheries; and the automotive industry.

As a gateway to Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Morocco represents an ideal export platform for access to some huge regional markets.

The country operates a successful market economy and has long been noted for its openness to foreign investment.  It pursues a policy of gradual reform to improve the business environment. It is open to foreign capital which now plays an important part in the total investment and does not discriminate between national and foreign investors.

Agriculture & Fisheries

Morocco is modernising its agriculture and agri-business sector in order to diversify production, enhance its added value and supply international markets with its produce.

In recognition of the great potential for agricultural development, in 2008 the Ministry of Agriculture launched the Green Morocco Plan (Maroc Vert), which aims to develop a modern, high-performance and competitive agriculture. A related programme involves the upgrading of the fishing industry.

There are a range of opportunities emerging in this sector: market gardening of spices and small fruit like strawberries; development of organic farming and pre-cooked dishes; olives, olive oil, fruit juices; modern fishing techniques and seafood processing.

Attractions for investors include exemptions from corporate tax and income tax for the agricultural sector until 2013. There are also specific measures to support integrated projects in basic foodstuffs such as milk and wheat, products with high added value like citrus and olive oil and products for mass consumption like confectionery and biscuits.

Six agri-parks are currently operational or under development in Meknes, Gharb, Berkane/Madagh, Agadir, Haouz and Tadla.

Garments and Textile Industry

Textiles, leather and clothing is the premiere industrial sector in the country and plays a major role in the social and economic development of the regions. Driven by changing consumer behaviour patterns and market globalisation, the industry offers opportunities for development through increased exports.

Opportunities in the country’s garments industry today include the production of casual and sportswear; under garments; the production of wool, cotton, synthetic textile and artificial fibres for weaving.

Among the market support available to the sector, the Export Free Zone in the Tangier Med offers specific incentives for operators.

Automotive Industry

This industry is characterised by bodywork and trailer manufacturing as well as the vehicle assembly plants. At present the industry is mainly oriented towards the domestic Moroccan market. However, the country is seeking to boost its exports by deriving more benefits from its competitive production costs and proximity to European markets.

Following a major deal with French car firm, Renault, to launch a new “family car” in Morocco, the automotive sector is being repositioned. The aim is to integrate national capacity within a global manufacturing strategy and attract more production activities and facilities into the country.

It is anticipated that a revamped automotive sector could generate €630mn in additional GDP and create 40,000 new jobs by 2015.

Opportunities for investors range from production of components such as wiring harnesses, filters, connectors, exhaust pipes, seats and hoods, tyres and electronics to assembly and carriage works.

Automotive cities and dedicated industrial sites have been established in Tangiers and Kenitra, as well as Export Free Zones and zones dedicated to original equipment manufacturing in Melloussa and Tetouan.


Schneider Electric, Solairedirect Interested in Morocco’s Solar Energy Sector

17/ 05 /2010

Casablanca – Experts from Schneider Electric and Solairedirect visited Morocco on May 12-15 to enquire about the Kingdom’s energy strategy and present their projects to Moroccan decision makers.

The visit is meant to advance talks on the establishment of a partnership with several Moroccan institutions concerning the projects of Morocco’s Solar Plan, which aims to generate a solar-based power capacity of 2GW by 2020, a joint statement of the two multinationals said.

The two companies, leaders in solar energy and photovoltaic power, also expressed their commitment to use local industrial capacity and benefit the country of their expertise at all levels (production, operations and maintenance).

Present in over 100 countries, including Morocco (since 1960), Schneider Electric is a global specialist in energy management, while Solairedirect -established in 2006- is a leading company in the field of solar photovoltaics in France.


Morocco invites investors to partake in $9 billion mega solar project

10 /05/ 2010

Morocco is undertaking an ambitious solar project estimated over $9 billion and  to produce 38% of the country’s installed power generation by 2020.  According Moroccan officials, the project will have five solar power generation sites throughout Morocco and will produce 2,000MW of electricity by 2020.

Moroccan officials stress that the country possesses a number of clear advantages that should ensure that the project’s ambitious goals are achieved, including 5 kWh per square metre per day of solar radiation and 3,000 hours of sunshine per year.

Moroccan  Energy minister Amina Benkhadra called, on Arab investors to contribute to Morocco’s large-scale solar energy project, launched in November 2009.

Speaking at the opening of the 9th Arab Energy Conference, the minister showcased Morocco’s energy strategy, particularly the Kingdom’s $9 billion mega solar project. Based on public-private partnership, the project includes five stations with a total capacity of 2,000 mega-watts and will cover by 2020 some 10% of Morocco’s electricity demand, representing with other renewable energy sources 42% of the energy capacity.

“I seize this opportunity to call all concerned Arab institutions to contribute to this project, which could serve as a unique model in the field of solar energy in the Arab region, which boasts huge potential in this field,” Benkhadra said.

Benkhadra underlined that the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy, created to oversee the production of solar electricity, launched in March an international call for expressions of interest to carry out the first project near the southern city of Ouarzazate, with a 500 MW power by 2015.

“This project can serve as a prototype for developing green electricity from solar energy in the Arab world, which can enable the region meet its growing demand for electricity,” she said.

Benkhadra also said that Morocco’s integration into the global and regional economy, particularly the Arab and Euro-Mediterranean regions, is a fundamental part of the Kingdom’s development strategy in general, and particularly in energy.

In this respect, she commended the fruitful cooperation between Morocco and the Arab countries in the field of energy, notably with the UAE, Algeria and Libya.

Benkhadra also recalled that Morocco imported nearly 80% of its oil needs from Saudi Arabia and Iraq and some 50% of its liquefied gas needs from Algeria in 2009.

Speaking about other projects planned as part of Morocco’s energy strategy in the mid-term, the Moroccan official said that the North African country will build by 2020 new large power plants using mainly coal as well as renewable energy to contribute to national electricity production.

For the long-term, Benkhadra stressed that all options are open, including the use of nuclear power, exploitation of oil shale, and the use of organic waste and bio-fuel.

The three-day event is an opportunity for Arab Energy ministers to tackle several issues related to the inter-Arab cooperation in the field of energy.


Moroccan agency for investment development opens office in Madrid


The Moroccan agency for the development of investment has opened an office in Madrid to encourage Spanish businessmen to invest in Morocco.

“The opening of this office aims at proximity, that is to say getting closer to the Spanish business arena,” said on Thursday the director of the agency, Fathallah Sijelmassi.

Recalling that over 1000 companies are currently based in Morocco, Sijelmassi said that the country’s economy is getting increasingly attractive and represents a solution to the crisis, both for Spain and Europe.

Highlighting kingdom’s business opportunities and incentives, he stressed that Spanish companies can produce more cheaply in Morocco and it constitutes an alternative for increasing their market share.


Morocco launches $288 mln urban development project in Oujda

06 /05/  2010

HM King Mohammed VI of Morocco has launched construction works of the first phase of the urban development project in the eastern city of Oujda, to be carried out for a total cost of 2.5 billion dirhams ($288 mln).

On this occasion, the Sovereign presided over the signing ceremony of a partnership agreement to implement this project, which aims to promote the attractiveness of the largest city in the eastern region, notably through setting up modern urban structures in the city center, delocalizing the industrial railway activities and using the freed spaces from the station to promote the city’s urban development.

The first phase of the project, worth 300 million dirhams, aims to upgrade Oujda city center into an integrated urban pole to promote the attractiveness and competitiveness of the city at the national and international levels through reinforcing its professional and residential real estate assets.

The project is also designed to build an urban pole including a state-of-the-art railway station, shops, offices, residential neighborhoods, hotels and tourism infrastructure, in addition to entertainment centers.

It is worth mentioning that  Morocco’s economy growth increased by 4.6% in the first quarter of 2010, the state statistics office HCP said .

Non-agricultural value added grew 5.1%, compared to 1.2% a year earlier and 1.9% in the third quarter of 2009, HCP said in its latest note.

The production of red meat and white meat rose by 4.2% and 8.4% respectively at the end of March 2010 compared with the same period of 2009.

Agricultural value added declined in the first quarter of 2010 by nearly 9.6%, according to the same source.

Concerning consumption, HCP said that local car sales rose by 7.8% at end March 2010 and imports of consumer goods decreased by 7.9% in late February 2010.

The real estate loans grew by 12.9% over the first two months of 2009, compared to 24.9% in the first quarter of 2009. (Map)

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Morocco’s economy growth up 4.6% in 2010 Q1, HCP says


Rabat – Morocco’s economy growth increased by 4.6% in the first quarter of 2010, the state statistics office HCP said on Thursday.

Non-agricultural value added grew 5.1%, compared to 1.2% a year earlier and 1.9% in the third quarter of 2009, HCP said in its latest note.

The production of red meat and white meat rose by 4.2% and 8.4% respectively at the end of March 2010 compared with the same period of 2009.

Agricultural value added declined in the first quarter of 2010 by nearly 9.6%, according to the same source.

Concerning consumption, HCP said that local car sales rose by 7.8% at end March 2010 and imports of consumer goods decreased by 7.9% in late February 2010.

The real estate loans grew by 12.9% over the first two months of 2009, compared to 24.9% in the first quarter of 2009.


Morocco Promoting Foreign Direct Investments

28 /04/ 2010

Morocco places the promotion of the business climate and Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) among its top priorities, Morocco’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Omar Hilale told reporters.

Addressing the 2nd session of the Business, Investment and Development Commission of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, he said world economies are confronted with an unbridled globalization, bringing about an array of opportunities which inadequately speeds up the evolution of world economy and hinders several developing countries from following the pace of ongoing processes.

The implementation of an efficient strategy in terms of Foreign Direct Investment requires a well-defined, coherent and coordinated development project, Hilale said.

Morocco is committed to strengthen the competitiveness of its economy, he said, stressing that the demonopolization process has led to the liberalization of several key economic sectors.

The Moroccan diplomat recalled that the Kingdom, since the entry into effect of the WTO’s agreements in Marrakech in 1995, has adopted a regional strategy to promote FDIs along with a sector-based strategy centered on delocalization.

E-regulation is another means to promote investments by helping businessmen get online access to the procedures necessary to start their business, he said.

Hilale stressed Morocco’s strong will to promote the business climate notably through decentralized management.

It is worth mentioning that the economic policies pursued since 2003 by King Mohammed VI have brought macroeconomic stability to the country with generally low inflation, improved financial sector performance, and steady progress in developing the services and industrial sectors.

The National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), a $2 billion initiative launched by the King in 2005, has improved social welfare through a successful rural electrification program, an overhaul of the tourism and agriculture sectors, and the gradual replacement of urban slums with decent housing.

A record agricultural harvest, strong government spending, and domestic consumption, however, combined to offset losses from weak exports and helped GDP grow by 5.1% in 2009. Despite structural adjustment programs supported by the IMF, the World Bank, and the Paris Club, the dirham is only fully convertible for selected transactions.

In 2006, Morocco entered a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US, and in 2008 entered into an advanced status in its 2000 Association Agreement with the EU.


Morocco, Estonia sign energy agreement


Rabat – Morocco and Estonia signed, here Tuesday, a Memorandum of Understanding to boost their relations in the energy field.

Signed between Morocco’s National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines and the Estonian company ENEFIT, the agreement provides for the implementation and the funding by the Estonian company of a program to assess the possibilities for exploring and developing Morocco’s production of oil shale in Tangier, El Borouj, Ouarzazate, Errachidia, Essaouira, Agadir and aghbala.

The agreement was signed following a meeting between Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Morocco’s Energy minister Amina Benkhadra, in which both parties voiced commitment to further boost cooperation in the energy field.

In another meeting, Ansip handed Morocco’s Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi a message sent to HM king Mohammed VI from Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Earlier in the day, The Estonian official held talks with several Moroccan officials, including Industry minister Ahmed Réda Chami and Foreign Trade minister Abdellatif Maazouz, on means to promote bilateral cooperation in technology and trade.


Morocco committed to promoting business climate, FDIs, diplomat


Geneva – Morocco places the promotion of the business climate and Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) among its top priorities, Morocco’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Omar Hilale said on Wednesday.

Addressing the 2nd session of the Business, Investment and Development Commission of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, he said world economies are confronted with an unbridled globalization, bringing about an array of opportunities which inadequately speeds up the evolution of world economy and hinders several developing countries from following the pace of ongoing processes.

The implementation of an efficient strategy in terms of Foreign Direct Investment requires a well-defined, coherent and coordinated development project, Hilale said.

Morocco is committed to strengthen the competitiveness of its economy, he said, stressing that the demonopolization process has led to the liberalization of several key economic sectors.

The Moroccan diplomat recalled that the Kingdom, since the entry into effect of the WTO’s agreements in Marrakech in 1995, has adopted a regional strategy to promote FDIs along with a sector-based strategy centered on delocalization.

E-regulation is another means to promote investments by helping businessmen get online access to the procedures necessary to start their business, he said.

Hilale stressed Morocco’s strong will to promote the business climate notably through decentralized management.


Morocco to create new financial hub


Morocco will create a new financial hub in Casablanca to make the city more attractive to international investors.

For this purpose, HM king Mohammed VI appointed on Monday Said Ibrahimi managing director of a new company in charge developing and managing the future Casablanca financial hub, said a statement of the king’s office.

The monarch thus entrusted Bensouda, who has been treasurer-general of the kingdom, with the job of setting up the infrastructures necessary for the promotion of this project designed to attract international investors.

This project mainly aims at making Casablanca an international financial centre, with a view to enhancing its development and economic potential, and preserving its position as a major regional capital.

The statement also reported that the king stressed the need to integrate this project into a comprehensive vision, taking into consideration all its components in terms of urban design, infrastructures, equipment, legal framework and human resources training.

He also underlined the necessity of implementing management techniques and methods appropriate to an international financial centre.

The sovereign also appointed Noureddine Bensouda as treasurer-general of the kingdom, to replace Said Ibrahimi. Bensouda has been the managing director of the tax office.

King Mohammed VI thus held a meeting, on Monday in his palace in Casablanca, with the two men, in the presence of the country’s finance minister and the central bank’s governor


Morocco encourages Spanish companies to engage in logistics development

21 /04/ 2010

Morocco has called on Spanish companies to engage in its ambitious logistics development plan, Spain’s agency Europa Press reported.

The plan aims to boost logistics in Morocco and strengthen competitiveness of the Kingdom’s economy, it said.

The experience of Spanish companies and other leading countries in operating logistics platforms will significantly contribute to implementing Morocco’s plan, Transport minister Karim Ghellab told Europa Press.

Ghellab noted that “proximity between Morocco and Spain, excellent relations with Spanish partners in this field and strong international presence of Spanish operators in goods transport are all favourable factors” for Spanish companies to engage in this endeavour.

In this regard, the Moroccan official recalled the recent agreement between Tangier port and Zaragoza Logistics area.

Morocco’s logistics plan, which will be carried out in partnership with the private sector, worth over €10 billion by 2030, provides for constructing 70 facilities in 18 Moroccan cities, mainly in the coastal cities of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

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Morocco lures investors to high-tech industries


Trade Minister Ahmed Reda Chami is encouraging foreign firms to invest in the technical know-how of the Moroccan workforce.

By Sarah Touahri for Magharebia in Rabat – 12/04/10

Morocco is working to attract investors in four technical fields in order to spur employment among youth.

Investors in the off-shoring, car manufacturing, aeronautical engineering and electronics industries will be recruited to boost Morocco’s economy and create thousands of work opportunities, Trade Minister Ahmed Reda Chami announced on Wednesday (April 7th) at the first conference held for such industries.

“A number of promotional activities have been undertaken by the new Moroccan Agency for Investment Development in the target countries,” Chami said at the Casablanca event.

The government is offering incentives packages to corporations that set up shop in Morocco, he said. The benefits on offer include rebates of some profit taxes and a five-year exemption from corporate taxes. Chami also highlighted Morocco’s high-performance infrastructure and competitively priced labour.

Mourad Laâouni, a young aircraft engineer who has been working for an aeronautical maintenance company for the past year, welcomed the news.

“I’ve chosen training, which will guarantee me work in a growth sector where there’s a lack of human resources,” he told Magharebia. “It’s only recently that the state has started showing an interest in training.”

New graduates are also taking notice of the shift in the economy.

Fatima recently graduated university with a political science degree, but is concerned about getting her foot in the workplace. This summer, she may enrol in a six-month off-shoring course offered by the Office for Vocational Training and Promotion of Employment.

“With my degree, it’s difficult to break into the job market. But that doesn’t mean you can just sit back and do nothing,” Fatima said.

“I’m only 22, and my plan is to get into this training course, which will help me find work.”

The Trade Ministry expects strong job growth in the four technical sectors. The ministry projects that by 2015, 70,000 jobs will be created in the off-shoring and automobile sectors, 15,000 in the aeronautics field and 9,000 in electronics.

Morocco has seen tremendous economic success in these targeted sectors, said Moroccan General Business Confederation chairman Mohamed Horani.

The off-shoring sector now accounts for 30,000 jobs and generated 4.5 billion dirhams in revenue in 2009, Horani said. In the automotive sector, Morocco joined the ranks of car producers with a major new assembly plant that can turn out 400,000 vehicles. As for the aeronautical and space industry, Morocco now boasts over 60 companies which support a workforce of 7,000 and generated 6 billion dirhams in revenue.

Another business leader predicted that Morocco’s economy will flourish in the next five years.

“Thanks to Morocco’s global trade, improved competitiveness among SMEs and greater human capital resources, Morocco’s economy will have emerged by 2015 as a regional platform for production and export to Europe, Asia, the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa,” said Moroccan Professional Banking Group chairman Othman Bejelloun.


Morocco: Competitive Advantage for Emerging Industries

8/ 04/ 2010

His Majesty King Mohammed VI chaired the opening ceremony of the first Moroccan National Industry Conference.

The conference is organized by Moroccan Ministry of Industry, Trade and New Technologies in partnership with the Moroccan Companies Confederation (CGEM) and Moroccan Banks Association (GPBM).

On this occasion, a video presentation was shown on progress made in the projects carried out as part of the 2009-2015 National Agreement for Emerging Industries, Le Pacte National pour l’Emergence Industrielle (PNEI).

Morocco is targeting 6 sectors where the country has a competitive advantage:

– Offshoring: Positioning of leadership in the Francophone nearshoring (10-12 key industries) around specially dedicated areas

Impact : +70,000 jobs

– Automotive: Creation of a stable industrial base over the long term around a network of suppliers and mega-sites of automobile manufacturing

Development of special areas dedicated to the highest International standards (Logistics, Real Estate, Services)

Impact : +73 000 jobd

– Aerospace: Enlargement of targeted sectors and move upmarket: outsourcing and industrialization (migration to levels 2 and 3)

Development of an aviation hub with an area of 200 hectares near Mohamed V airport

Impact: +15,000 jobs

– Electronics: Focus on specialty electronics and integrated, particularly in synergy with the automobile and aeronautics industries

Integration in dedicated areas

Impact : +9,000 jobs

– Textile: Repositioning on the fast-fashion models from the North-South cooperation to be more balanced (co-sourcing)

Improving integration

Impact : +32,000 jobs

– Agro-industry: Development of 8-10 sectors with high potential (eg olive oil) around Integrated Projects (Agro Agrotech or dedicated teams)

Impact : +24,000 emplois

Off-shoring Achievements 2009

– Accelerated the pace of setting up local ready-dedicated Off shoring sectors.

40 enterprises have already been installed at Casanearshore and 14 others in Rabat Technopolis

– 17 French companies specializing in information systems (SSII), settled in Morocco, representing approximately 47% of the turnover of the fifty most important French company’s.

– Encouragement of a number of large companies in the field of BPO to settle in Morocco: Installation of Teleperformance and Genpact, which are Call Centres leading to very strong and VA, in addition to AXA, bringing the number of employees in 2009 to 380 people, forecasting that it will hire 800 people by the end of 2010.

– Signature of Memoranda of Understanding between the State and 4 international companies: Genpact, EDS-CDG IT, BULL, TELEPERFORMANCE

Creation of around 6,000 jobs in 2009 (a growth rate of 17% compared to 2008).

Prepared a marketing plan and adapted to the French and Spanish markets

Promotion Offer Morocco in several events: Event organized by Eductour Casanearshore, Steria Medshore, the days of the industry …

Automotive Industry Achievements 2009

– Signature of investment agreements with a number of companies

Realization of certain investment projects: FAURECIA, TREVES, DELPHI, SUMITOMO, who have installed themselves in 5 sites in Morocco. SUMITOMO has already created 12,000 jobs

– Other investment opportunities are currently under study ;

Conducted a series of meetings in Morocco, France and Spain, with many French and Spanish federations specialising in manufacturing auto parts.

– Culmination of discussions between Egypt and Morocco, to allow access of 6,000 Logan cars in the Egyptian market in 2009 under the Agadir Agreement;

– Assistance to manufacturers of automotive parts R2 and R3 premises to enable them to supply parts to manufacturers of R1 and Renault this project to increase local added value.

– Initial discussions with Group PSA to supply its site in Vigo from Morocco

– Launch an audit of competitiveness from a panel of Moroccan firms by PSA

– Advanced work in improving the logistics process between Tangier and Vigo (air and shipping lines, customs aspect …)

– Signing a partnership agreement between the French Federation and its Moroccan counterpart (GPLC).

– Work to accompany the introduction of Euro and Euro 4

– Tracking the evolution of society “SOMACA” to  achieve its operational production capacity estimated at 90,000 cars per year

– Tracking economical vehicles, particularly in terms of local integration

– Presentation of Moroccan offers at several events: Tec’Auto Fair in Casablanca, Midest-Fair Industrial Subcontracting in Paris, Equipauto Salon in Paris. …

Aerospace Industry Achievements 2009

– Conducted a series of international meetings with business operators

– Participated in the exhibition “Le Bourget”, and met representatives of aerospace companies to convince them to choose Morocco for their future investments.

– Signing of a series of investment agreements with French companies ZODIAC, ATCH and MS COMPOSITES, which will create over 380 jobs

– Identification of the positioning of Morocco and the channels of promotion done.

Electronics Industry Achievements 2009

– Organised meetings in Morocco with key players, including French companies Thales and Alsthom that have concluded in agreements to subcontract with several Moroccan companies

– Achieved support of the American Group LEAR by the realization of its investment project in the field of electronics in Rabat Technopolis.

– Preparation of a marketing plan tailored to the French market. The identification of the positioning of Morocco and the promotion channels have been made.

President of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM), Mohamed Horani, highlighted steps undertaken by CGEM (employers union) as part of the PNEI.

For his part, head of the Professional Grouping of Moroccan Banks (GPBM) reaffirmed the full backing and commitment of banking institutions in favor of the implementation of the PNEI.

During the ceremony, four partnership agreements were signed between the government and several operators in the economic, industrial and financial sectors.

On this occasion, the Monarch decorated several Moroccan and foreign personalities who made outstanding achievements in the economic, industrial and financial sectors.

PNEI attractive incentive framework:

– A massive relief of labour taxes / tax burden related to Income Tax not exceeding 20% per person

– Exemption for a period of 24 to 36 months of Tax Revenue, Tax training and employer and employee contributions (under the Contract plan)

– Exemption from Corporation Tax over a period of 5 years and 17.5 above, for companies that export products or services

PNEI Vision:

– Focus on sectors with competitive advantages

– Improving the competitiveness of enterprises

– Strengthening implementation capacity

PNEI Objectives for 2015:

– Creation of 220,000 direct jobs, reduction of urban unemployment

– Creating wealth through an increase in GDP of 50 billion Dhs

– Generate an additional volume of exports, 95 billion Dhs

– Generate additional private investment of over 50 Billion Dhs

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Morocco: Tourist arrivals up 14%


The number of tourists who visited Morocco in the first two months of the year increased 14% compared to the same period last year, said Tourism Ministry in a statement.

The number of tourists visiting Morocco thus increased to one million in the year to February, according to the ministry’s statement.

It added that French tourists topped the list (386,000), followed by Spaniards (227,000) and Brits with (57,000).

For their part, tourism receipts rose to MAD 6.52 billion (about USD 778.5 million) in the same period, registering an increase of 10.5% compared to the same period last year.

The tourist sector was one of the sectors that were affected by the international financial crisis.


Chami calls on enterprises to benefit from ‘Industrial Emergence Pact’


The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Modern Technologies, Ahmed Reda Chami, called on Moroccan Enterprises to take advantage of “the real opportunities” offered by the National Pact for Industrial Emergence (PNEI) launched last year.

During the opening ceremony of the first national indusial conference, chaired by the HM King Mohammed VI, Chami also called for a “sustained mobilisation” to make this project bear fruit.

The minister thus presented, on Wednesday in Casablanca, before the king the progress made since the launch of the PNEI on February 13, 2009. It will cover the period spanning 2009-2015.

He also stressed that Morocco is today ready, more than any time before, to have a competitive industry able to invest, create jobs and wealth, and export high-quality products, labelled “made in Morocco”, towards the world.

For his part, the President of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM), Mohamed Horani, highlighted the steps taken by his federation as part of this pact.

Horani also stressed that this project has given unprecedented impetus to the Moroccan industrial sector and proved its relevance as it “focuses on the branches in which Morocco has a competitive edge.”

In fact, the pact focuses on key industrial sectors in which Morocco is more competitive, including the automobile, high-tech industry, aeronautics, services, telecommunications and corporate governance.

The head of the Professional Association of Moroccan Banks (GPBM), Othmane Benjelloun, reiterated his organisation’s commitment to provide full support to the PNEI. Benjelloun is the president of BMCE Bank.

This first industrial conference is initiated by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Modern Technologies, in partnership with the General Confederation of Moroccan companies (CGEM) and the association of Moroccan banks.

The programme featured discussions on the PNEI and its results, as well as the ways to strengthen the Moroccan economy in general, and the industry in particular.

The conference also saw the signing of four partnership agreements between the government and several operators in the economic, industrial and financial sectors.

These agreements mainly concerned Tetouan-shore project, Nouacer’s P2I, the facilitation of internships and the financing of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).



Joint committee pledges to boost economic relations


The Morocco-Brazil joint committee for the promotion of trade and investment held its first meeting Monday in Brasilia.

During this first meeting, both parties undertook to make every effort to develop trade and promote investment in several sectors, stressing the need of setting up a business council to take charge of this job.

The Moroccan delegation thus expressed the country’s strong commitment to raise the economic relations to match the level of political relations.

The Committee was established as part of an agreement signed on January 30, 2009 during a visit to Morocco by the Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Miguel Jorge.

At the end of the meeting, the committee agreed to hold a second meeting in the second half of October in Rabat.

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Morocco’s franchise sector doing well


It seems that the franchise sector is really doing well in Morocco. It has registered over the last ten years an average annual growth of about 18%.

There are now 3,653 outlets and 407 franchise networks in Morocco, according to the statistics of the department in charge of domestic trade presented in a conference held on Thursday in Safi.

These statistics reveal a predominance of the equipment sector (39%), followed by the food industry (16%) and furniture (7%).

They also show a strong presence of international retailers (84%) and a significant headway of Moroccan trademarks (67), with over 2,544 outlets, spreading over the major cities of the Kingdom.

Casablanca and Rabat alone host 43% of outlets, according to the same the same source belonging to Ministry of Trade, Industry and Technology.

It is worth noting that the franchise sector in Morocco has gone through three key stages: the initial phase (1960-1990), the growth phase (1990-1997) and the flourishing phase (from 1997 up to now).

The meeting aimed at providing information on the potential and the opportunities offered by the sector, as well as establishing business relationships among franchisers and franchisees.

Last year, Morocco counted 370 networks against 342 in 2008 (+8%) and 2560 sales outlet against 2292 in 2008 (+12%).

But despite this development, professionals have pointed out that the sector is still suffering from two major handicaps: funding and the difficult access to commercial real estate.

This franchise business is also targeted by the domestic trade development program called “Rawaj”, which was launched in 2007 by former Prime Minister Driss Jettou.

Morocco organizes an annual franchise exhibition which is meant to be a platform for meetings and exchange of expertise between the professionals of the sector.

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Study day on investment in Morocco


A study day devoted to the presentation of Morocco’s economic potential and investment opportunities will be held on Friday in Munich, capital of Bavaria.

This meeting will see the participation of both Moroccan and German economic players.

They will discuss such topics as the Moroccan economic development, partnership between Moroccan and German companies, the Moroccan agency for investment development, among others.

The program also features workshops on renewable energy, the electronics industry and the automotive and aerospace industries.

The meeting will be organised by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for Munich and Upper Bavaria, the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Moroccan Embassy in Germany.

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Morocco calls for Arab economic integration


Morocco has reiterated its strong commitment to work towards an Arab economic integration and vowed to intensify efforts and contacts to reach this goal

Morocco’s Economy and Finance Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, told the press after a meeting of the Arab League’s Economic and Social Council in Sirte, Libya, that the private sector should be involved in this economic integration.

Calling for making more efforts to serve Arab common interests, Mezouar reaffirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to help achieve the large Arab free trade area and eliminate all obstacles hindering its implementation, in view of creating a customs union.

According to the Moroccan minister, the council discussed several issued to be included in the economic agenda of the 22th ordinary Arab Summit scheduled for March 27-28 in Sirte (450 km east of Tripoli).

He pointed out that they considered the establishment of a fund to support small and medium enterprises with a capital of 2 billion dollars, the development of pan-Arab trade, the Arab customs union, and electrical and transport interconnections, among others.

On the sidelines of this meeting, the Moroccan official held several bilateral meetings with his Arab counterparts during which emphasis was placed on ways to strengthen and develop cooperation relations.

Mezouar headed a delegation composed of the Moroccan ambassadors to Libya and Egypt, the director of treasury and external finance and his deputy.

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Morocco : OCP, Jacobs Engineering create joint venture


The US construction company, Jacobs Engineering Group, and Morocco’s Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) have signed an agreement to create an engineering joint venture, the OCP declared.

As part of this agreement, the new company, called JESA, will provide OCP with world-class tools to support its industrial and expansion strategy, mainly its USD 5 billion investment program.

“By associating with the leader of the phosphate industry and combining our energies and joint expertise, we build a stronger partnership for our mutual benefit in a promising sector,” said Jacobs’ Chairman Mr. Noel Watson in a press release.

Equally owned by the two companies, the joint venture will deploy a combination of engineering, project management and construction management resources, said a press release of the American company.

JESA will mainly contribute to the implementation of the necessary infrastructure elements for the development of the Jorf Lasfar Phosphate Hub (JPH), besides other things.

“This joint venture is an important milestone for OCP in realizing its short and medium-term investment objectives by providing engineering and other services for the group’s projects in Morocco and at the international level,” OCP’s CEO Mostafa Terrab stressed.

Last year, OCP, the world’s leading phosphate exporter, registered a turnover of MAD 20.7 billion, despite the difficult international context.

Encouraged by this performance, the office has recently said that it intends to spend up to MAD 13 billion on investments in the current year.

It invested MAD 6 billion in 2009, a year marked by the international crisis and the fall of both demand and prices.

These investments will mainly concern the increase of production, the construction of a pipeline, the development Jorf Lasfar Hub, etc.

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Marocotel’ exhibition kicks off in Casablanca


Morocco’s international hotel business and catering exhibition, dubbed “Marocotel”, kicked off on Wednesday in the country’s economic capital Casablanca

This years’ exhibition, which is the eleventh, has brought together some 200 exhibitors from different countries and is expected to attract thousands of visitors.

The 4-day event aims to be a meeting venue for the professionals of the sector, offering them the possibility of innovating their equipment and discovering state of the art technologies.

Covering over 15,000 m2, the event is organized by the French chamber of trade and industry in Morocco. It was inaugurated by Morocco’s Foreign Trade Minister Abdellatif Maazouz and the president of the French Chamber, Bernard Digoit.

In fact, the tourist sector seems to start the year on a positive note. The number of tourists that visited Morocco in January reached 508,000, registering an increase of 15% compared to the same month last year.

France, as usual, comes first with a total of 180,000 tourists, followed by Spain (115,000), Belgium, (27,000), the Netherlands (27,000), Britain (26,000), Germany (23,000) and Italy (21,000).

Following this hike in tourist arrivals, receipts attained MAD 3.56 billion, increasing 6% compared to January 2009.

Last year, the number of tourists who visited Morocco reached 8.35 million, chalking up a rise of 6% relative to 2008.

However, despite this rise in the number of tourists, tourism revenues stood at MAD 52.4 billion (about USD 6.7 billion), dropping 5.7% compared to the previous year.

Morocco had planned to reach 10 million tourists by the year 2010, as part of the famous “vision 2010” which aimed at diversifying and developing the sector for this purpose.

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EU-Morocco Summit

King calls for going beyond free trade area


Morocco and the EU reaffirmed, at the end of their first summit, their commitment to establish a common economic area, marked by an advanced integration of the Moroccan economy in the EU’s.

In a joint statement issued after the summit held on Sunday in Granada, Spain, Morocco and the EU greed to take concrete actions to achieve this objective.

They thus underlined some action that are likely to lead to this end, including the harmonization of legislative frameworks both in Morocco and the EU, the conclusion of a comprehensive free trade agreement, the consolidation of economic and social cooperation.

In a message to the summit, HM king Mohammed VI called on the EU to go beyond “the mere establishment of a free trade area,” in its relationship with Morocco.

“Investment flows need to be boosted, agricultural and industrial synergies created, the services sector restructured, and common policies implemented in the areas of research for development and the knowledge-based economy,” stressed the sovereign.

Highlighting the agreements signed between the two parties, especially the latest agricultural agreement, he insisted “on the need to take practical measures towards its implementation to honor our joint commitments,” regretting the delay in its entry into force.

At a joint press conference organized after the summit, the Moroccan Prime Minister, Abbas El Fassi, voiced his satisfaction over the outcome of the meeting, which “crowns a long process rapprochement.”

He noted that the meeting ushers in a new era of cooperation between the two parties, underlining the convergence of views on different issues.

For his part, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero hailed the “positive and constructive” relations between Morocco, Spain and the 27 EU member States.

He added that this summit is a “major stride on the path of consolidating partnership with a southern country” which is a “strategic partner” for Europe.

The meeting saw the participation of the European Council President, Van Rumpoy, the European Commission President, José Manuel Durao Barroso, and the Spanish Premier, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose country is assuming the EU rotating presidency.

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Morocco-European Union

First summit for further rapprochement


The Morocco-European Union summit, slated for March 6-7, is a significant stride for further rapprochement between the two parties, said on Thursday the European Council.

The council explained that this first Morocco-EU summit will focus on a number of issues: bilateral relations, immigration, the peace process in the Middle-East, the Union for the Mediterranean, the situation in Africa, climate change and the global economic downturn.

For his part, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said that this summit is a strong and important sign towards a neighbor of the European Union.

The meeting, to take place in Granada (southern Spain), will see the participation of the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the European Commission president.

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EU-Morocco Entrepreneurial Summit on March 6


The first EU-Morocco Entrepreneurial Summit will be held on March 6 in Granada (Spain), on the eve of the EU-Morocco summit scheduled for 7th and 8th of the same month and in the same Spanish city, said MAP news agency on Tuesday.

The summit will be organized by the Spanish Confederation of Entrepreneurial Organizations, BusinessEurope and the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM)

According to organizers, it will be an opportunity to “shed light on the projects that the EU intends to develop, the prospects of the Moroccan market and the opportunities it offers in such sectors as renewable energy, transportation, logistics and infrastructure.

This meeting will bring together representatives and members of entrepreneurial organizations, businessmen and officials from both Morocco and the EU.

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