AmCham Morocco Door-Knock Mission to Washington, D.C.: an Annual Event

On April 22-24, AmCham Morocco organized a Door Knock mission to Washington, D.C. under the theme: Morocco the Gateway to 3 Continents: The U.S. Business experience and new investment opportunities.

2014 Door Knock mission main objectives were as follows:

  1. Showcase Morocco’s Investment and Export Potential
    • Present success stories of U.S. investment in Morocco and promote Morocco as the Export Gateway to the U.S., Africa and Europe (the three Continents) with Polydesign Systems being a live case, joining the delegation.
    • Promote ‘Made in Morocco’ Exports to the U.S.A., Domaine El Boura, a major citrus exporter to the U.S. part of the delegation.
    • Promote Morocco’s new cities and platforms such as Zenata Eco City, also joining the delegation.
  2. Networking for AmCham Members
    • Provide an opportunity for members to promote their businesses in the U.S.
    • Provide an opportunity to better understand the business development and political infrastructure in the U.S.
    • Provide network contacts to pursue partnerships with U.S. companies through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  3. Advocate on behalf of U.S. Companies
    • Main Business Challenges to address to boost U.S. – Morocco business relations.
    • Present needs for U.S. government support and technical assistance.

A delegation of 15 participants took part in events and meetings set during this Door Knock including Walter Siouffi, AmCham President and CEO, Citibank Maghreb, Azzedine Kettani , Vice President of AmCham and CEO, Kettani Law Firm, Harjeet Grewal, CEO, Philip Morris Morocco, Rabia Elalama, Managing Director, AmCham Morocco, Abdeslam Taadi, Responsible for Communication and Development, Attijariwafa Bank, Abdellah Radouani, CEO, Domaine El Boura, Julianne Furman, CEO, Polydesign Systems, Moulay Hafed Belghiti, CEO, Waga Engineering, Mohamed Amine El Hajhouj, General Manager, Zenata Eco City, Mohamed Arabi Naciri, Business Development, Zenata Eco City, in addition to members who joined from the U.S. including Ryan Anderson, Vice President, Manas Development, Nathan Graham, Government Affairs, Procter and Gamble, John Steele, Government Affairs, Eli Lilly, Jeffrey Kemprecos, Government Affairs, Merk, Steve Jacobs, Government Affairs , Philip Morris, and AmCham partners such as Rob Tashima, Regional Editor, Oxford Business Group, Jean Abi- Nader, Executive Director , the Moroccan- American Trade and Investment Center (MATIC), Nabigha Hajji, Economic Officer, the Moroccan Embassy in Washington and Scott Eisner, Vice President, Africa Division, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Main activities included:

  1. A working session on ways to build stronger partnership between AmCham Morocco and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC) in Washington, D.C., identify ways to partner with U.S. companies to promote ‘Made in Morocco’ and identify areas of cooperation to support the new AmCham Export Incubator.
  2. Several suggestions were made at this meeting including:

    • Develop more B to B and matchmaking meetings between members of the two chambers
    • Host a business delegation to Morocco led by the USCC
    • Host an AmCham Africa conference in Morocco.
    • Join the Middle East Commercial Center (MECC) recently launched by the USCC. MECC is a private sector-led alliance of over 60 business organizations from 17 countries that is working together to promote greater intra-regional trade and investment.
  3. Individual Meetings with U.S. market consultants to discuss ways of collaboration to boost Exports to the U.S. Such meetings included a meeting with U.S. company NTC, an international trading firm, founded by a former International Executive Service Corps (IESC) expert that conduct business transactions between the U.S., Middle East, African and other countries worldwide and a meeting with the Middle East & North Africa Consultants Association (MENACA), an association of highly experienced service professionals who are actively conducting business and/or have career public and private sector experience in the Middle East and North Africa.
  4. Suggested Areas of cooperation to support the new AmCham Export Incubator included:

    • Brand Morocco study
    • Made in Morocco event in the U.S.
    • B to B meeting facilitation for exporters.
    • Help with main trade shows in the U.S.
  5. Series of individual meetings with relevant U.S. Government agencies including the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP), International Trade Administration (ITA), Senate staff meeting mostly Senator Andrew Coon’s office, Office of International Affairs, Department of Treasury, to discuss business concerns faced by AmCham members including Software Piracy and IPR Enforcement, Counterfeit and Contraband, Price Controls, Market Access issues, ways to boost exports to the U.S. and Totalization agreement.
  6. Propositions made at these meetings include:

    • Joint awareness programs
    • Trainings
    • Advocacy
    • Best practice exchange
  7. A special meeting with the Moroccan Ambassador to discuss a future Morocco-U.S. Totalization agreement in presence of Bill Birkhofer from Government Affairs at Jacobs and MATIC Executive Director, Jean Abi-Nader.
  8. A special meeting with Senator Andrew Coon’s staff to discuss ways of boosting U.S.-Morocco relations, more collaboration with Delaware state, Delaware Chamber of Commerce, the port of Wilmington and the creation of a special caucus.
  9. Suggestions included:

    • AmCham presence at Opportunity Africa Summit in Delaware to be held early 2015
    • State of Delaware business delegation to Morocco
    • Assistance for Exporters of fresh products that need cold treatment during shipment
    • Contact with Delaware State University and University of Delaware
  10. A panel discussion to promote Morocco as a gateway to 3 Continents at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with over 35 participants.

    us chamber lunchUS Chamber lunch
    Panel discussion members

    From L to R: Moderator: Robert Tashima, Regional Editor, Oxford Business Group, Julianne Furman, CEO, Polydesign Systems, Walter Siouffi, AmCham Morocco President and CEO of Citibank Maghreb, H.E. Rachad Bouhlal, Ambassador of Morocco to the USA, Scott Eisner, Vice President, Africa Division, USCC, My Hafed Belghiti, CEO, Waga Engineering, Mohammed Arabi Naciri, Business Development, Zenata Eco City.

    The panel discussion moderated by Robert Tashima began with an introduction by Ambassador Bouhlal who explained the Morocco- U.S. Strategic Dialogue. Ambassador Bouhlal reminded participants that the Strategic Dialogue, inaugurated in September 2012, is a strong signal of support to U.S.-Morocco relations. He added that in addition to FTA signed in 2006, the Strategic Dialogue is a forum for discussing a full range of U.S.-Morocco cooperation on bilateral and regional issues, reflecting the strong strategic partnership between the two countries. Topics for discussion include bilateral and regional economic engagement, regional security and defense, science and technology, education, and other global issues. Ambassador Bouhlal added that since the Strategic Dialogue was initiated in 2012, Morocco and the U.S. hosted two business development conferences, signed a Trade Facilitation Agreement and an ICT Agreement and recently hosted the strategic committee meeting in Rabat in presence of John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State. Walter Siouffi detailed how Morocco has evolved to serve as an important platform for doing business. He praised Morocco’s economic, social, political reforms and liberalization of the economy. With its various preferential free trade agreements, competitive labor costs, excellent transportation and logistics systems, free zones, Tangier Med port, strong financial services capabilities, and overall positive business environment, Morocco has become an ideal platform for a regional market of a billion consumers allowing businesses to trade in three Continents, the U.S.A, Africa, and Europe, stressed Walter Siouffi. Julianne Furman, CEO of Polydesign Systems, a Detroit based U.S. Company, enthusiastically described how her company established in 2001 in Tangier Free Zone to manufacture interior trim parts for the car industry for various brands including BMW and Jaguar, became today a success story exporting globally to European markets such as the UK and Germany, and as per March 2014 to African markets such as South Africa and Lesotho. Julianne Furman is convinced that the geostrategic location of Morocco as the gate of the U.S.A, Europe and Africa has clearly positioned Morocco as a major and cost-competitive base to European and north-American companies to become part of the global automotive supply chain. On human capital availability and skills needed for the automotive industry, Julianne Furman added that Poydesign is member on the Board of the automotive training centers where they are fully involved in Morocco’s programs to develop skills and talents needed for their industry. Moulay Hafed Belghiti, CEO of Waga Engineering, a main supplier for the aerospace industry gave a brief overview of the aeronautic sector in Morocco. He stated that Morocco is considered among the most competitive emerging manufacturing base in the world, with more than 100 referenced companies established in less than 10 years and about 10 000 employees and an average annual growth of 15% for the past two years. Companies such as Safran Group, Airbus, Boeing, Zodiac Aerospace, Thales as well as North-American companies like Alcoa, UTAS, Esterline Group and more recently Bombardier Aerospace have chosen Morocco as their development base.
    The success of this industry is supported by a well-thought strategy elaborated by the government and the industrials called ‘The Industrial Emergence Pact”, which focuses mainly on education, infrastructure and financial subsidies. Morocco has dedicated 140 hectares to the sector by creating the free zone Midparc, a high standard ‘Integrated Industrial Platform’ located near Mohamed V Airport in Nouasser-Casablanca with a capacity of 330 plants, dedicated to aerospace industry, defense, security, on board electronics, and high tech industries.On human capital availability and skills needed for the aerospace industry, Mr. Belghiti informed that Morocco has launched the Moroccan Aerospace Institute (IMA), a leading-edge training-education center, whose objective is to sustain and grow the aerospace industry through education and training of the workforce. IMA has the capacity to train 1000 trainees per year, concluded Mr. Belghiti.

  11. A business Roundtable hosted at Citibank’s offices in D.C. dedicated to promoting Zenata Eco City business opportunities in main poles such as healthcare, real estate, green technology and education. The roundtable was addressed by Walter Siouffi, CEO of Citibank Maghreb and Rachad Bouhlal, Ambassador of Morocco to the U.S. and has attracted several U.S. Companies in the healthcare, construction and project development including American Health Management, Hill international, Jacobs, Bechtel Global Corp., Mason Trade Strategy LLC, American Hospital Management Co., EAMC, CH2M HILL, USLBA, AECOM, Merrick & Company, Leo A. Daly, MENACA and representatives from NUSSAC, MATIC, World bank and the National Foreign Trade Council.Ambassador Bouhlal opened the roundtable and gave an overview of recent reforms and investment incentives as well as new development projects. He reminded the comparative advantages, the stable environment and the strategic location Morocco offers to investors as well as business opportunities available in emerging cities such Zenata Eco City and Casablanca Finance City. Walter Siouffi gave an overview of important milestones undertaken by Morocco over the past 10 years and explained the whole set of incentives and attractive measures offered in the Moroccan Investment Charter. “Morocco places investments at the heart of its economic strategy and has adopted a proactive policy of promoting foreign direct investment in strategic sectors including automotive, aerospace, and automobile,” pointed Walter Siouffi. He concluded that Morocco is poised to becoming the gateway to three Continents for investment and finance thanks to an integrated and anticipatory policy and an infrastructure that meets international standards such as Midparc, Casablanca Finance City, Tangier Free Zone, Tangier Med and soon Zanata Eco City. Walter Siouffi gave the floor to Zenata Eco City team to present different investment opportunities associated to this mega project.walter siouffiFrom L to R: Mohammed Amine El Hajhouj, General Manager, Zenata Eco City; Walter Siouffi, President of AmCham CEO Citibank Maghreb; and Mohammed Arabi Naciri, Business Development, Zenata Eco City.Zenata Eco City (www.zenataecocity.ma) is an attractive platform being built between Casablanca and Mohammedia. Zenata is a territory spread over 5 000 acres (1 830 ha) which will host the future first Moroccan Eco-City: Zenata New City. This major and patriotic project, for the region and the country, will offer current and future inhabitants a better quality of life as well as a promising future. Among the initial projects already awarded are what will be the largest shopping mall in Morocco and Africa, several middle-class housing complexes, and land preparation for sports, education, and health centers. It will have a multimodal train station, a subway/tram connecting it to Casablanca’s system, and direct access to the country’s multilane motorway. Mohammed El Hajhouj and Mohammed Naciri, who are the team leading the U.S. presentations, are already interviewing U.S. universities and medical facilities managers to encourage them to bid on the upcoming tenders for the education and health centers. Zenata’s developers are generating requests for proposals (RFPs) that they believe will be attractive to the leading companies in the specific sectors. Particularly keen to attract U.S. companies, the Zenata team is planning a fall U.S. road show to promote particular attention to the education and health zones in the city, where the latest best practices will be featured.
  12. A Reception hosted at the Moroccan Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C. in presence of several U.S. companies and partners such as the USCC, NUSSAC and the Business Council for International Understanding.dinner Moroccan ambassador in washington
  13. The Door Knock was concluded by a reception hosted by Microsoft at the Innovation and Policy Center in Washington, D.C. on the theme ‘City Next’. A theme that has been of a great interest to Zenata Eco City who is working on a partnership with Microsoft Morocco.AmCham microsoft in Washington D.C.

AmCham would like to extend its sincere thanks to all those who made this mission a success including sponsors, partners, speakers and delegation members.

AmCham Door Knock Delegation members

Special thanks
to
The Moroccan Embassy in Washington
Kettani Law Firm
Domaine El Boura
Eli Lilly
Merck
Procter & Gamble
Manas Development