More than 200 business leaders and government representatives from the U.S. and Morocco convened at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta on October 13 for the second annual U.S.-Morocco Trade and Investment Forum. The Forum organized by the Moroccan Embassy in Washington D.C. aims to promote investments, trade and partnership opportunities between Moroccan and U.S. companies in areas of Energy, Aeronautics, Automotive, Water Management, Banking and Financial Services. The event follows last year’s forum in Dallas with the objective of promoting Morocco’s growing importance as a hub for U.S. companies considering to invest and expand in Morocco and the greater north, west and sub-Saharan Africa zone. The conference builds on the success of the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement that went into effect in 2006, as well as the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue launched in 2012.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Morocco’s (AmCham Morocco) President and General Manager of Citibank Maghreb, Walter Siouffi, moderated the Plenary Session on “Doing Business in Morocco”. The panel included His Excellency Mamoune Bouhdoud, Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises as well as the Honorable Marcus Jadotte, Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration, Mr. Said Ibrahimi, CEO of Moroccan Financial Board of Casablanca Finance City, Mr. Othman Kotari, the Managing Director and Head of Investment Department, and AmCham member Geert Broos, General Manager of North and Equatorial Africa, Coca Cola. The discussions highlighted the well-defined and well-orchestrated sectorial plans rolled out by the Moroccan government over the past 15 years that are seeing a steady increase in FDI from U.S companies and other global players in the automotive and aeronautics sectors among others. Morocco’s excellent infrastructure was ranked the 1rst in North Africa and third in the continent in the 2015 World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitive Index “. The rapid rise of the Casablanca Finance City in attractiveness reached 42nd place this year out of 82 cities ranked in the Global Financial Centres Index with several U.S. companies already licensed and operating. The need to build awareness of the Moroccan platform to U.S. SMEs was also highlighted given the competitive edge Morocco can offer to help them access the European and African markets in addition to creating more B2B opportunities for Moroccan and U.S. companies to engage in business dialogues.
His Excellency Rachad Bouhlal, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the U.S. and the champion behind these forums in the U.S. also spoke at the forum, as did other key leaders from Morocco’s private and public sectors. From the United States’ side, other attendees included Dwight L. Bush, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco; Mr. Chris Carr, Georgia Commissioner of Economic Development; Mr. Gary W. Black, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture; Mr. Curt Fergusson, President of Coca-Cola’s Middle East and North Africa Business Unit; Mr. Ahmet Bozer, EVP and President of Coca-Cola.
At the end, Ambassador Bouhlal was pleased to announce together with Robert Noble, Vice-President of Partnering for Success and Boeing Commercial Airplanes, that the 3rd U.S.- Morocco-trade and Investment Forum will take place in Seattle next year and will be hosted by Boeing.