"We have decided on an Open Economy"
Sunday, Februar 15th, 2009
The German-African Business Association’s one-day Moroccan business conference on December 1, 2008 in Hamburg.
Morocco as a business location has said goodbye to the macro-economic problems of the 1980s, according to the Moroccan Minister of Industry and Commerce, Chami, and is now focusing on the tourism sectors and the development of the industry and agriculture. Chami sees Renault-Nissan’s moving in, the rise in the number of tourists to 7.8 million in 2007, and the production of fashion chains like the Spanish fashion company Zara as evidence that Morocco has made considerable progress in recent years. This attitude was also confirmed during Morocco’s one-day business conference by BDI President Jürgen R. Thumann, Marco Wiedemann, Executive Director of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Morocco and the Praeses the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, Frank Horch, who promoted increased involvement of German business in Morocco in front of some 130 participants.
“Morocco is a hub for commerce in the Mediterranean,” said BDI President Thumann, drawing attention to Morocco’s favorable geographical location. “Germany is an ideal partner for Morocco,” Thumann also said, declaring himself for greater interest from the Moroccan side. The trade relations have intensified in the last couple of years and also show a positive development in 2008. “There were signs in 2008 that for the first time Morocco will be the most important German trading partner Maghreb,” the BDI president said. German exports to Morocco rose in the first nine months around 15.4 percent to over €1.1 billion (2007: €977 billion).
“Even if Morocco has gained importance and attention as a business location in recent years, its market potential is often still underestimated,” said AHK Executive Director Marco Wiedemann. A rising demand for machinery and equipment as a result of the modernization program offers the opportunity for German businessmen as well to expand their activities in Morocco. Growth sectors include the IT branch, the car industry with its suppliers, the aviation industry, as well as electro-technology. Thanks to the consequent opening of the country and the fundamental liberalization, Morocco has developed into one of Africa’s most competitive and high-performing countries.
The Moroccan automobile industry is particularly attractive. At present some 45,000 workers are employed in the industry. The French car maker, Renault-Nissan, has announced investments amounting to 600 million euros in Tangier. The plant is planned to take up production in 2010 and initially produce 200,000 cars annually and in the next expansion phase increase to 400,000 cars. The export-oriented plant is being built in Tangier’s free trade zone being created as part of the new deep sea port, TangerMed.
The deep sea port of TangerMed is one of Morocco’s largest investment projects. At present some 12,000 ships pass through the port city of Tangier. “Every fifth container worldwide crosses the Strait of Gibraltar,” according to Youssef Benchekroune, Vice President of the TangerMed Port Authority. The new deep sea port is supposed to contribute to a considerable amount of the flow of trade destined for the Mediterranean being handled through Tangier in the future. The Hamburg terminal operator, Eurogate, is also involved in the expansion of the deep sea port. “We quickly realized that Tangier could become very important for Eurogate,” said Jörn-Peter Kassow, Eurogate’s manager. The company has invested 140 million euros in the construction of a new terminal and plans to employ about 600 people on site by spring 2009. Kassow praised the quick execution of the project and believes that Eurogate made the right decision in choosing Morocco.
The energy sector is another area in which German businesses could become more involved. “Five billion euros are to be invested in the energy sector,” said BDI President Thumann, pointing out the potential. Along with coal, renewable energies are in focus. In North Africa, Morocco is among the pioneers in the field of wind power. By 2012, 10% of the total energy needs are supposed to be supplied by renewable energies, according to Amal Haddouche, general manager of the Center for the Promotion of Renewable Energy. A wind velocity of up to 11 m/s offers very good prerequisites for the use of wind energy. Amal Haddouche assumes that the country offers sufficient potential to realize a capacity of 4,000 – 9,000 mw by 2020. Ideal prerequisites for the use of solar energy is the medium daily solar radiation of 5 kwh/qm, and also up to 950 mw could be produced in the field of biomass by 2020. It is important to create the necessary legal basis to optimally accompany the development of the sector and also to offer foreign investors a clear set of regulations with transparent structures, said Haddouche. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH is involved in the field of renewable energies and advises the Moroccan government, including working out a renewable energy law.
Immediately following the close of the business conference, eighteen participants were able to see personally the potential of the Moroccan economy in Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier as part of a four-day delegation trip that the German-African Business Association organized for the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.
(German-African Business Association)