Morocco is the world’s largest phosphate exporter and has 75% of the world reserves. Blessed with breathtaking natural sites, very rich culture and a unique sense of hospitality, Morocco has a well developed Tourism industry. The agricultural sector is very divers and the manufacturing industry is has been developing steadily and during the last years, some sectors are achieving an unprecedented growth positioning Morocco as a major player in the world.
The Moroccan government actively encourages foreign investment and has adopted several reforms designed to improve the investment climate and turn Morocco into one of the most business friendly countries in the world. As a result, a large number of foreign companies are operating in Morocco, of which more than 120 are Americans firms --- including Boeing, Dell, Proctor and Gamble, CMS Energy, Coca-Cola and Time Warner, Delphi Automotive etc... In addition, over 150 Moroccan firms distribute and represent hundreds of U.S. products and services.
Morocco’s agriculture is the largest in the region. With its temperate climate and a long growing season, Morocco is able to produce a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
Morocco’s transportation and communication systems and its low cost labor force offer significant comparative advantages for Moroccan agribusiness. Morocco’s top five export categories which make one fourth of all Moroccan exports are fresh as well as processed fruits & vegetables, olive oil, spices & nuts. Agriculture generally accounts for between 13 and 16% of Morocco's GDP and employs 45% of the workforce.
In 2005, Morocco decided to open up its agricultural sector to foreign investors. International invitations to tender for a long-term lease of the best arable lands were launched in two phases. The response for the first phase was very positive. The second phase is ongoing and details can be viewed here..
Morocco is also an important player in supplying the world market for seafood products. Open to the world and directed mainly to the markets of the European Union and Japan, the seafood industry represents 50% of Morocco’s farm-produce exports and 12% of the country’s total exports. The Free Trade Agreement between Morocco and the United States offers new opportunities for exports and investments in this sector. The Moroccan anchovies and sardines are already well known among US consumers. For further information, please check Ministry of Fisheries or the National Fisheries Office.
Textile and garment products
Morocco has always been known for the high quality of its handcrafted textiles and leather goods. The French word maroquinerie (fine leather) derives from “Morocco”. Its hand knotted rugs are valued all over the world. Less well known is the fact that modern Morocco has large sophisticated textiles mills that produce large quantities of ready made clothing and accessories for world markets. The high productivity of these modern mills plus the skills of traditional craftsmen offer many opportunities for U.S. investors. Many firms including some world famous companies and designers such as Christian Dior, Cacharel, Yves St. Laurent, Hugo Boss, Ted Lapidus, Hermes, GAP etc. discovered the advantages of contracting production of signature garment products in Morocco.
The Morocco US Free Trade Agreement signed in July 2004 and implemented in January 2006 has contributed in bringing unique prospects for the Moroccan garment industry in the American Market. As a result, US imports of garments from Morocco increased by over 60% between 2005 and 2006. Products that normally have duties of 15 to 30% applied can now be sourced from Morocco duty free.
Morocco has very cost effective types of high end garments such as, but not limited to, denim bottoms with the most modern washes and knitwear from vertically integrated factories.
Morocco has excellent lead times to the US market including direct air service to New York (8 hours non-stop) and a new port (Tangier Med) which will allow for container shipments to reach the US East Coast in just 7 days.
For more information about the sector as well as the opportunities under the Free Trade Agreement, please visit the Moroccan Textile and Apparel Manufacturers Association.
This sector in particular witnessed an unprecedented growth in Morocco. The need for the aerospace global industry to reduce costs led a number of companies to explore Morocco as a production platform. The number of companies has increased from a handful in 2000 to fifty today. Prestigious companies such as Labinal, Teuchos, Aircelle, DL Aerotechnologie, Safran Group, DAHER, EADS, Creuzet etc have set up production units in Morocco. The aerospace activity is mainly located in Casablanca and Tangier. The Casablanca hub at the international airport is called “Aeronautic City”. The industry in Tangier Free Zone is also expanding rapidly. Today, the sector is made of 50 companies, provides 5000 jobs and has a $394 million.
Within few years, Morocco has developed an aerospace industry hub that gathers a large scope of expertise such as studies surveys, mechanics and tooling, composites, assembly, distribution of chemical products, surface treatment, wire bundles, electric and electronic components, civil, military aircrafts and helicopters maintenance, engine maintenance, nacelles, aeronautic training. Most of these industries are EN9100 certified.
The fast development of this sector in Morocco prompted the organization of the first international exhibition in North Africa, bringing together major aeronautics players. Aeroexpo 2007 represents a platform of local and international sector players.
Several assets distinguish the Moroccan auto parts sector in the Mediterranean region:
Morocco boats an automobile tradition dating back to the 60s. It possesses assembly lines and commercial vehicles as well as for heavyweight vehicles. Renault's reinforced presence in Morocco through the L90 Project provides real business opportunities.
An expanding local market in view of the increasing transport needs; the same market is also opened onto other countries of the region through free trade agreements, reinforcing thereby the kingdom's appeal for any investor.
A privileged destination in the category of ''low cost'' countries for auto parts manufacturers seeking leverage to boost their competitiveness. Naturally, destined to consolidate outsourcing relations between manufacturers and first rank auto parts manufacturers, or among first rank auto parts manufacturers themselves, this position may turn out efficient for winning other export market shares.
This observation is confirmed by the case study of the American-Canadian auto parts manufacturers POLYDESIGN SYSTEMS (branch of Polytech Netting), which relocated in Morocco to supply Ford in Spain and won over other markets of Renault and PSA; they currently represent 60% of its turnover.
Morocco becomes increasingly a hosting platform for relocated research centers like Matra Automobile Engineering, a branch of Pininfarina's automobile design group run by Mr. Pininfarina, who signed a convention with the Moroccan Government to establish a research and engineering center.
Tangier's free zone particularly affords foreign auto parts manufacturers an investment framework meeting international standards and reinforces Morocco's appeal as a zone of relocation; the free zone is systematically favored when manufacturers want to supply countries of Central and Western Europe. Being close to Europe works a great deal to its favor, particularly from a perspective of timely production.
Morocco is in a position to afford its principals, manufacturers, first rank auto parts manufacturers as well as their suppliers with a competitive platform to supply Europe. Morocco is looking forward to become for Europe what Mexico is to North America.
Electric & Electronic Products
The largest Moroccan export to the US is semiconductors. Morocco’s well-developed electronics sector has some of the largest and more sophisticated factories in the region. Because of its large pool of skilled labor, engineers and experienced supervisors, Morocco is well positioned to offer valuable advantages to U.S. and other foreign investors who want to produce in Morocco. Many important companies (STMicrolectronics, Crouzet, MicroSpire, Possehl Electronics etc...) have already established or increased their production units in the country. Morocco has the capacity to produce all types of electronic equipment, including computers, semi-conductors, relays, hybrid circuits, transistors, radios, televisions, electronic games, telecommunication equipment, electric cables etc. All the support industries necessary to sustain the electronics-manufacturing sector are available in Morocco, from metal and machine shops to industrial gas suppliers and electroplating facilities etc. In February 2003, STMicroelectronics opened a Design and Software Development Center. Mr. Pasquale Pistorio, President and CEO of STMicroelectronics declared "We have been impressed by the skill and enthusiasm of young Moroccan engineers and are excited by both the contribution they can make to our world-beating portfolio of innovative products and technologies and the contribution that we can make in stimulating the growth of a dynamic semiconductor design industry in Morocco."
Morocco has liberalized its telecom sector, which is now the most developed and modern in the region. Its state-of-the-art equipments, combined with the well-educated work force, competitive wages, favorable foreign investment laws and an ideal climate helped convince many companies seeking to establish new grounds for offshore software development, hardware integration, product manufacturing and, most recently, call-centers. Morocco has also emerged as one of the fastest growing broadband Internet markets in the world, growing at a rate of 200% by adding a total of 135,000 DSL lines in the first three quarters of 2005, for a total installed base of 179,000 lines. Links (ANRT, E-MAROC2010)
Offshoring & call centers
Morocco aims to create up to 100,000 jobs over ten years by drawing new business from companies seeking to hive off labor-intensive service activities. The government is setting up a chain of specialized business zones across the kingdom to capture a slice of the global market for offshore services, expected to be worth $38.74 billion over the next ten years.
The zones offer lower overheads such as telecommunication costs, simplified administration and employee training services to draw banks, insurers and IT companies.
With a plentiful supply of French and Spanish-speaking graduates, Morocco intends to replicate the success of India, which has become an outsourcing hub for the English-speaking world.
Calls centers for French and Spanish speaking countries increased substantially during the last years. The world leading computer company, Dell has opened a business center in Morocco to address its European markets needs.
Efforts to attract an ever-larger number of tourists to Morocco seem to be paying off, with 5.87 million tourists visiting the country in the first 11 months of 2006. It is a 9% year-on-year rise. French tourists represent the largest group after the Moroccans leaving abroad. Meanwhile, the number of nights spent in Moroccan hotels increased by 7% to 15.21 million. The government has targeted an annual total of 10 million tourists by 2010, and has pledged to offer additional incentives for investment in the tourism sector, including long-term financing for hotel construction, tax exemptions and the revamping of local taxation. Moreover, the government vowed to invest Dh45bn (US$5.49bn) in new resorts, designed to increase Morocco’s overall bed capacity. The government has also engaged in financing tourist infrastructure, as well as initiating the liberalization of the airline industry and increasing the budget allocation for the promotion of tourism, in a bid to bolster the development of the sector. As the Moroccan government and international community make headway in fighting terrorism, we believe the tourism industry will develop considerably over the medium term. A US company, Colony Capital was selected by Morocco to develop one of the resorts. The company will build seven hotels, two golf courses, and residential communities along 4.5 miles of beachfront land on the Moroccan coast of Taghazout.
The Moroccan handicraft sector accounts for 20 percent of national labor force and more than 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Morocco is one of the major craft producing countries of the world. As Morocco enters a new and competitive trade regime, the sector holds the promise of significant contributions to exports as well as strengthening Morocco’s tourism industry. The products of Moroccan handicraft are one of the fundamental characteristics of the Moroccan lifestyle. Over 40 corporations have been working wood, metal, copper, wool, linen, stone and clay for centuries. Adapted to the needs of modern life, Moroccan handicraft production relies on traditions, offering thus a large variety of products ranging from leather working to carpet weaving.
In Morocco artisan production in 2002 generated $6.2 billion in sales for two million artisans, benefiting one-third of the population.