Invest in Morocco: Opportunities to Invest in Morocco
|Wednesday, 30 March 2011 08:09|
Interview with Fathallah Sijilmassi, Director General of Morocco Investment Development Agency
Morocco was ranked 3rd best country in Africa for foreign direct investment for 2009-2010, what are the main attractions in Morocco for international companies to invest in Morocco?
I believe that Morocco has important and unique opportunities for any international investor willing to invest in Morocco and expand in the region. We are a hub for the European, Mediterranean, and African Markets, perhaps even beyond. Morocco has undergone important reform that has lead to an average of 5% GDP growth over the last ten years that peaked at 7% in 2009 and for 2010-2011 we expect to stabilize at 5%. We have made important infrastructural investments that will allow outside companies to benefit from the competitive environment and we have instated legislative reforms that have created a friendly business environment to invest in Morocco. Since the 1990s until now we have multiplied our yearly FDIs in Morocco six times. We have a large network of foreign trade agreements with European countries, Africa, and we are the only African country to have agreements with the US to facilitate the investors to invest in Morocco. This allows access to over a billion consumers because of all the countries that we have free trade agreements.
You are the only African country with free trade agreements with the US. What are you going to do to promote trade with America and to attract FDIs from the US?
Morocco is ready to truly be a part of the global economy and really try to expand beyond the region. Europe accounts for 70% of our total exports and we are ready to strengthen our volume with Europe and also attract international investors in the US, Asia, and the emerging markets (where we are especially interested). If anyone wants to market to other countries that we have agreements with then they can do it through Morocco. We have seen growing interest from American and Asian companies that invest in Morocco and one of our major goals at Morocco Investment Development Agency is to explain to international investors what the benefits are of investing in Morocco and to help them set up and advise them along the way so they have the proper environment and incentive framework to develop their business. Investment is part of our own economic and social policy because you cannot separate economic development from social development and creating jobs is our number one priority. By attracting companies to invest in Morocco, we will trigger the economic growth securing a better life and social development in Morocco.
Morocco is forecasting a 20% rise in FDI for 2011. Meaning that a lot of companies would have to invest in Morocco. What do you view as the main challenge to reaching this ambitious goal considering what is going on in the region and the on-going economic instability in the world?
I believe that the international crisis has given us a an opportunity because it has created a need for competitiveness and since Morocco was an emerging market is benefitted from this because people started to look towards Morocco and consider to invest in Morocco. We hope the regions instability is temporary but we will continue to develop our reform dynamics and growth and during this time we have witnessed a large amount of companies come and invest in Morocco and to develop their businesses.
What are the biggest challenges for you now?
The biggest challenge is to always be ready to improve and make progress in the country and also to show our international investors that we have a valid platform to consider to invest in Morocco. There are many competitors around the world and this is a good thing but you have to be first. We are going global and as we expand into new regions we have new and even established competitors. Morocco needs to demonstrate its competence by presenting the "Moroccan model". We need to work three times as hard as our established competitors and demonstrate the advantages to invest in Morocco.
At the present time how easy is it to invest in Morocco?
It is never easy to invest in Morocco and elsewhere because it is always an important decision. We are in the process of making the procedures more simple and mobilizing the administrations that are involved in the process. A newly created government institution found in 2009 has been created to facilitate the investment process for international investors that would like to invest in Morocco. We believe this just adds to building a friendly environment for investors and this institution of 100 members with offices abroad will help this too.
Can you give us a brief over view of the major projects planned to transform Morocco? Where do you see space for investors investing in the Moroccan economy?
Because of our geographical situation and proximity to major regions we have implemented plans in sectors of activity where we believe we are competitive. These range from tourism, agriculture, fisheries, logistics, industry, energy, renewable energy, and others. We believe we have six sectors where we have a strong competitive advantage including: aerospace business, automotive, electronics, info technology, textiles, and agro-industry. The infrastructure for these is in place and there is fiscal, administrative, and human resources advantages.
There are three major challenges Morocco is facing: having educated human resources, the availability of land, and the legal system in the country. When do you think these three areas will see significant improvement? What is your role?
For all three areas there will always be room for improvement but this is precisely what our value propositions are for in the industrial sector, for example. In our industrial zones we have one stop shops for everything to be taken care of for our investors that invest in Morocco. We have made investment to improve our training institutions. An example of this in March 2011 is going to the launching of an aeronautical training center. Our population is 33 million people and this provides many opportunities for human resources and we are strongly committed to improve the competitiveness of our people in Morocco.
Is the system ready and safe for investors who wish to invest in Morocco?
During our reforms we have seen the judicial and legal framework undergo reforms. Our Free Trade Agreements provide a legal framework for our customers. Morocco is the second Arab country to have access to the investment committee OECD, which is a very strong statement for people that would like to invest in Morocco. Through this the OECD acknowledge that the business environment in Morocco is safe and the legal framework is guaranteed by these international agreements and this includes dispute settlement resolutions. Morocco is the only country in the world to have an advanced status with the EU and this also says we have a modern, stable environment that is a safe place for the international investor.
What is your long term vision for Morocco and what needs to be done to keep up with the dynamic that it has currently?
I believe that the world economy is being reshaped and during this transition I believe Morocco will play a role. I also think Morocco will be in the top twenty emerging economies that will serve to drive the world economy. Also, my dream is to make is as easy as possible for the international companies to invest in Morocco.