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a stability dividend

North Africa has experienced a lot of political and social unrest in recent years, meaning that the relatively stable Morocco has emerged as a regional FDI hub. The country's minister of economy and finance, Mohamed Boussaid, tells Sebastian Shehadi about the next stage in attracting big investments.

Q: What is attracting FDI to Morocco?

A: The reasons are very simple. FDI goes to politically and economically stable countries, and Morocco is very stable and gives many opportunities in many areas. We have clear sectoral strategies in industry, agriculture, tourism, renewable energy and logistics. This visibility and clear vision brings in foreign investors.

Investors do not just look at Morocco as a market – a very respectable market with 34 million inhabitants – but also as a platform and country that is integrated in global value chains. [Morocco] is a bridge to Africa and 55 countries with which we have signed free-trade agreements.

When you see Renault [and] Peugeot in Morocco, it shows how the transformation of our economy [has become] a reality. The primary export sector is automotives, with 650,000 vehicles exported last year – so it’s not phosphates [which is the country's traditional export] or textiles. This diversification of our economy, the openness of the economy and the clear vision of our strategy, gives many investment opportunities. Boeing and Bombardier [are just two] big names to see opportunities to invest and export.

Q: What is impeding more investment coming and how are you overcoming these challenges?

A: FDI is growing and diversifying. We have an average of $4bn investment yearly. The investments in industry are becoming bigger and bigger. We have a strategy of building ecosystems by developing SMEs around big foreign or domestic investment in order to create more jobs. So the challenge for Morocco is to create more jobs for young people.

Q: Are you seeking to attract more investment from certain countries?

A: In the past seven to eight years, Morocco’s partnerships have been changing. For example, our trade with Africa has doubled from 5% to 10% of our [total] trade. Some zones from around the world are becoming more important. We have a strategic relationship with Russia and China – and not just in terms of trade with China: China is now investing in Morocco. It is making a big investment in the north, in the smart city of Mohammad VI Tangier Tech. 

We have a developing relationship with India. I am currently in the UK [at the time of this interview] is to showcase more opportunities. We have very good diplomatic relations, but the UK’s economic relationship with us should be bigger. For Morocco, the UK is the 10th top supplier and client. For the UK, Morocco is the 52nd. If language was really a barrier, how come Brazil is the third top client for Morocco, and we trade more with Germany than the UK? There are some psychological barriers that we need to work out.    

Q: Are you encouraging FDI into the Rif region – which has experienced social unrest through the Berber minority – to improve the political situation there?

A: The Rif region is of course part of Morocco, but with a specific history and geography. With this region, as others, we have a clear policy: we believe we need to make our growth more inclusive. Growth means not just producing wealth and added value, but also taking care of wealth distribution. We believe that the regionalisation of the past few years – giving the regions more liberty – is a good solution to Rif's socioeconomic problems.

This article is sourced from fDi Magazine
fDi Magazine

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