[Source: NUSACC's U.S.-Arab Trade Outlook 2013]
Morocco is “open for business with the United States,” said H.E. Aziz Mekouar, Morocco’s Ambassador to the United States, during a NUSACC Arab Ambassadors Forum event in Boston in July 2010. He noted that Morocco has worked hard to develop a business-friendly environment and that the country’s location, its Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), and major infrastructure opportunities have attracted growing foreign investment.
Morocco’s economy dipped in 2010 because of a weak harvest and lower exports of construction materials to Europe. Agriculture makes up 15 percent of Morocco’s GDP and employs 40 percent of that nation’s labor force, so a bad season has a profound impact on Morocco’s economy. In 2009, by comparison, a strong harvest mitigated the impact of the global economic downswing and U.S. exports of goods and services to Morocco climbed to $1.6 billion – a 12 percent increase over 2008.
To reduce reliance on energy imports in 2010 and to take advantage of an abundant natural resource, H.R.H. King Mohammed VI announced wind energy developments worth $3.9 billion during the inauguration of a new phase one wind park in northern Morocco at Essaouira – the largest wind park in Africa. Morocco’s energy investments are geared toward producing 42 percent of total energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.
France is the dominant foreign participant in many sectors as a result of proximity, a common language, and a longstanding relationship stretching back to colonial times. This may be about to change.
Until the U.S. – Morocco FTA entered into force in 2006, the largest U.S. presence in the North African Kingdom tended to be film crews staging productions in awe-inspiring Moroccan landscapes. After signing the FTA, U.S. companies began steadily flowing into the market. Citibank has a 100 percent equity stake in its Moroccan subsidiary, for example, and Western Union is now present in the most remote corners of Morocco to provide remittance transfers from expatriate workers around the globe.
Professional service exports are also on the upswing. McKinsey and Company is providing services to the Moroccan Government’s offshore industrial development plan and to the 2020 agricultural sector development plan (Plan Maroc Vert). To date, U.S. engineering service providers have not participated in major road or port concessions, but interest in the United States is on the upswing. Telecom equipment and service providers are facing a tougher challenge due to Morocco’s selection of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) for mobile telephony.