Morocco's privatization plans attract international interest
Morocco-USA, Economics, 12/16/1999
Morocco's privatization program, formally begun in 1993, is expected to bring in at least $3 billion over the next three to five years, wrote the Washington Post.
The daily explained how the Moroccan privatization operation is attracting the interest of international capital-holders, quoting privatization minister, Rachid Filali, as saying that Morocco has privatized 60 companies with proceeds of $1.7 billion and an additional $600 million in further investment.
The daily also recalled that the second GSM license which was awarded to the Meditelecom consortium has involved a payment of $1.1 billion, the largest amount received by the Moroccan government. The minister told the paper "Ittisalat Al-Maghreb, the state-owned telecommunications monopoly, as well as Royal Air Maroc, the state-owned carrier, are also in the negotiations to privatize."
Concurrently with the GSM deal, the daily went on, the Michigan-based CMS Energy signed an agreement with Moroccan authorities to develop an industrial park in Jorf Lasfar (El Jadida/100 km south of Casablanca) which would focus on foreign direct investment, joint ventures and exports. This agreement follows a 1997 accord for construction of a $1.5 billion electric plant.
Morocco and the US have enacted several important bilateral investment agreements, including a 1991 treaty that grants US investors equal status as other nationalities and a 1995 US-Morocco Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIRA), the story said.
For the daily, a program to privatize all of the state assets in state enterprises over a 5-year period is a cutting-edge revitalization-through-privatization proposal that will entail a drastic economic turn-around.
The daily also spoke about the assistance extended by the Casablanca-based US-Morocco Council on Trade and Investment set up in 1994 in conducting market research and providing all necessary information for investment decisions.
Potential investors are also interested in Morocco's existing foreign debt of $18 billion as France, Spain and Italy have instituted a debt "reconversion." Under this program, 20% of the large official bilateral debt owed to these European countries is converted into private investments in Morocco. The US began enforcing a similar equity-for-debt swap in September. In addition, the World Bank decided to allot $250 million this year to Morocco's social and economic reforms while USAID-related assistance from trade and investment to education and political reform totalled $7 million.
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