U.S. companies have invested over 250 Million Dollars in Tangier and created about 20 000 direct jobs and the equivalent in indirect jobs.
On Friday, November 1st, 2013, AmCham visited the Free Zone of Tangier and hosted series of activities with U.S. companies there. In the morning, a delegation composed of Walter Siouffi, AmCham President & CEO of Citibank, Brian Shukan, U.S. Consul General and Rabia El Alama, AmCham Managing Director visited four production plants of U.S. Companies based in the Free Zone including Polydesign Systems, Lear Corporation, Delphi Automotive and Powerex. The site-visits were then followed by a roundtable discussion about doing business in Morocco and later in the evening a Mixer event hosted at the prestigious American Legation.
AmCham visit to Tangier is a reconnaissance to the important hub for U.S. investors, a position that has recently been reinforced by the new Tangier Med transshipment port, the major remake of the city port of Tangier – and the upcoming TGV high speed rail line to link Tangier with Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech.
Over the past 20 years, Tangier has attracted a number of U.S. companies, many of which are in the automotive industry. Delphi was the first U.S. Company to establish a production unit in 1999 at the Industrial Zone to manufacture wire harnesses and electronic modules. Later in 2001, Polydesign Systems established its first plant at the Free Zone to produce interior trim parts for cars.
The success of these companies and the comparative advantage offered by the Free Zone has convinced more U.S. investors to come to Tangier and has encouraged existing ones to expand. The best example is Lear Corporation which has established 8 plants all over Morocco, with 6 in the Free Zone of Tangier dedicated to manufacturing seat covers and head rests injection, wire harnesses and electronic modules their finished products reaching major automobile manufacturers in the UK, Spain, France and Germany just in time for final car assembly.
In addition to the automotive sector, Tangier has become a semi high-tech hub with companies such as Powerex manufacturing and designing of highly sensitive semiconductors for export to Europe and other continents and Esterline – Soriau producing interconnection solutions for aerospace, defense and heavy industry for Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, EADS, Eurocopter, Bombardier, Dassault, Embraer, SAAB, Alenia, Alstom, Safran, Zodiac, Lebherr, Sercel, Phillips, Alcatel and ABB.
The franchise business is also growing with the opening of 3 McDonald’s restaurants, Avis rent a car, Re Max real estate and others. Not to forget the pioneers like Coca-Cola which established the first plant in 1947 or Jacob Delafon, a longtime manufacturer of Sanitary Products in the region and Dupont (Axalta Coating Systems), the only leading global coatings company in the region
We estimate that U.S. companies have invested over 250 million dollars in the Tangier-Tetouan region, creating about 20 000 direct jobs and the equivalent in indirect jobs. They continue to demonstrate a strong commitment to the development of local communities through their engagement in various social programs.
The roundtable was an opportunity to hear about successes and challenges of U.S. companies established in the Free Zone. CEO of these companies concur that the incentives offered by the zone are excellent. These incentives include: 1) tax incentives (0% corporate tax for the first 5 years, 8.75% for the following 15 years, 0% custom duties and 0% VAT on import and export); 2) proximity to Europe, 3) excellent infrastructure and 4) skilled, motivated and highly performing workers.
With all these advantages combined, CEO of U.S. companies in the free zone are confident that the platform of Tangier will remain competitive when compared to higher cost locations in Europe. For many years to come and all were bullish on prospects for further growth. However, the region has some challenges in particular high costs of logistics and transportation mostly between Tangier Med and Algeciras when compared to similar distances elsewhere.
AmCham recognizes all these developments and will continue to promote the platform of Tangier for U.S. investors and other investors. AmCham will also work with concerned agencies on a number of challenges discussed during our roundtable.
The event ended with the nomination of Polydesign’s CEO Julianne Furman as AmCham’s representative for northern Morocco Julianne has been a longtime friend of Morocco and best Ambassador of goodwill of the region.