Morocco attends Maghreb investment, development conference in Washington
Morocco-USA, Economics, 11/10/2000
Morocco will attend a Maghreb conference on investment and development, to be held November 15-16 in Washington.
Morocco sees this conference as an important opportunity to publicize its economic potentials to US investors, Moroccan economy, finance, privatization and tourism minister, Fathallah Oualalou, said at a press briefing hosted Tuesday by US ambassador to Morocco, Edward Gabriel.
The Washington conference, sponsored by the US Trade and Development Agency (TDA), will be attended by a high-level Moroccan delegation, led by Ahmed Lahlimi, social economy, small and medium enterprises and handicraft minister, in charge of the government general affairs.
The conference is part of the process triggered by the Eizenstat Initiative, launched in 1998 by Stuart Eizenstat, current deputy secretary of the US department of treasury.
The initiative focuses on economic partnership between the USA and the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia).
It is aimed at encouraging private sector-led growth and regional economic integration in the Maghreb. It revolves around fostering senior-level policy dialogue to promote economic reform and liberalization, providing Maghreb governments with a platform from which to engage with potential US investors and extending focused technical assistance and training programs aimed at helping Maghreb governments improve business and investment climates.
During the meeting with the press, Oualalou said Morocco will present investment projects in several realms, especially tourism, telecommunications, information technologies, energy and environment. The minister added the Moroccan party will ask Americans to think of the extent of their participation in Morocco's ongoing privatization process.
Oualalou noted that the Americans had already shown a keen interest in concessions related to airports within the perspective of the study to be conducted on the Casablanca international airports.
The Washington Maghreb conference on investment and development will be preceded by a meeting, on November 13-14, on a US-proposed Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The agreement, already signed by Morocco in 1995, is yet to be initialed by Algeria and Tunisia.
The agreement is designed to send very positive signals to prospective US investors in the region.
For Oualalou, the TIFA represents the foundation upon which the Moroccan-US relations will stand in commerce and investments fields.
During the meeting on the TIFA, participants will debate promising sectors such as tourism and information technologies as well as the strategy for the promotion of Moroccan products in the USA.
US Ambassador to Morocco, Edward Gabriel, sees the TIFA agreement as a preliminary step towards discussions between Moroccan and US officials on the creation of a free trade area. But Oualalou insisted that the major issue to be settled, in this connection, is the identification of the access of Moroccan products to the US market. He added that Moroccan firms need to grasp the American regulations to be able to penetrate the US market.
Gabriel underlined that the Washington meetings are an opportunity for Moroccan officials and businessmen to "sell" their country and potentials to the US investors. He lauded the various reforms ushered in by Morocco, especially in telecommunications and energy.
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