Magharebia (Washington DC)

11 March 2014

Morocco, U.S. to Boost Investments

Rabat — Morocco's finance minister on Monday (March 10th) urged US businesses to boost investment in the country and take advantage of "unprecedented" regional growth, AFP reported.

Speaking at the opening of a bilateral business conference in Rabat, Mohamed Boussaid said trade between Morocco and the United States rose four-fold between 2005 and 2012, reaching $4 billion (2.8 billion euros).

Roughly 60 American businessmen joined Moroccan entrepreneurs and government officials at the event.

The aim was to discuss ways of boosting trade and investment under the free trade agreement (FTA) between Morocco and the United States.

"The fact remains that despite this average annual growth in exports, since 2005 Morocco's trade balance (with the US) has been in deficit," Boussaid noted.

He said the kingdom aimed to attract American investors because so far, despite the efforts made, the proportion of direct investment in Morocco was still minimal at only 0.01% of all US investments made worldwide.

To attract American investors, Morocco is showcasing its infrastructure, positioning itself as a springboard to Africa.

US Chamber of Commerce Vice-President Scott Eisner praised those assets, noting that Americans should invest more in Morocco and take advantage of its experience and stability in order to tap into the continent's great potential.

Todd P. Schwartz, special representative for commercial and business affairs at the US State Department, said that Morocco and the United States could do more in terms of economic co-operation, which is vital for creating jobs.

"American investors must take advantage of Morocco's position as an African hub. This country opens the door to business on this continent, especially in sub-Saharan Africa," he said.

The two countries can increase their co-operation while benefiting from various bilateral agreements, General Confederation of Moroccan Business (CGEM) chair Miriem Bensalah-Chaqroun said.

It is now necessary to overcome obstacles, including the difficulties experienced by Moroccan businesses in accessing the American market, she added.

In order to achieve the desired goals, an agreement was signed by CGEM and the US Chamber of Commerce in order to give Moroccan businesses technical support.

Experts have welcomed this coming-together of businessmen from both countries. They said it would make it possible to fulfil the commitments made in the Free Trade Agreement.

There is much potential to be explored between the two countries, economist Ziad Galmiti told Magharebia.

Morocco, he said, must persuade American financiers to come to the kingdom, which has developed its infrastructure and improved its business environment.

"Although some major American investors already have a presence in Morocco," they still fall short of expectations, he said.

Moroccan businesses must develop their exports by adapting to the American market using their standards, he noted.

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