Washington analyzes the investment climate in Morocco

The U.S. Department of State released a Moroccan investment climate report on July 28 titled Investment Climate Statements 2022: Morocco. The report notes that Morocco enjoys political stability, a strategic geographic location and a robust infrastructure that have made it a regional manufacturing and export base for international companies.

The Kingdom actively encourages and facilitates foreign investment, especially in export sectors such as manufacturing, through positive macroeconomic policies, trade liberalization, investment incentives and structural reforms.

The Moroccan government, the same source continues, is implementing the strategies outlined in the New Development Model aimed at boosting employment, attracting foreign investment, and increasing productivity and production in key income-generating sectors, with a focus on value-added creation. industries such as renewable energy, automotive, aerospace, textiles, pharmaceuticals, outsourcing and agribusiness.

In addition, the US State Department emphasizes that Morocco is prioritizing investment in Africa as part of its strategy to expand its trade relations across the continent and secure its title of “Gateway to the World”, “Africa”.

The African Development Bank, the same source continues, ranks Morocco 2nd among African investors in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa and 1st among African investors in West Africa. “OCP Africa, a subsidiary of Moroccan phosphate giant OCP, has a presence in 16 African countries and continues to invest in infrastructure to support phosphate exports,” the report says. invested in the African continent in 2021.

“However, in accordance with the Moroccan Investment Code, the repatriation of funds is limited to accounts in “convertible” Moroccan dirhams. The Office des Changes has made several changes for 2022 that will liberalize the country’s currency rules. Moroccans traveling abroad for tourism purposes can now exchange up to US$10,000 in foreign currency per year with the possibility of additional benefits indexed to 30% income tax returns with a maximum ceiling of US$30,000.

Business travelers can also receive large amounts of foreign currency, provided that their business has properly declared and paid income tax. Another new provision allows banks to use foreign currency accounts to fund investments in Morocco’s industrial acceleration zones,” the report says.

Do business

The US Department of State also recalls that the World Bank, in its Doing Business 2020 report, ranked Morocco 53rd out of 190 countries, up seven places from the previous report in 2019 and up 75 places over the past decade from from 128 in 2010.

“Since 2012, Morocco has introduced reforms to facilitate business registration, such as eliminating the need to file a registration declaration with the Ministry of Labour, lowering company registration fees, and eliminating minimum capital requirements for limited liability companies. Each of the 12 Regional Investment Centers (RICs) has a website that helps investors complete the registration process,” the same source said.

However, registering a business in Morocco takes an average of nine days, which is significantly less than the average for the Middle East and North Africa region (20 days). The application of Law 18-17 concerning the creation of a business through electronic means in 2021 will allow Morocco to earn points in the Doing Business ranking.

“All the steps involved in creating, recording and publishing company data can be done through this platform. The new national commission will monitor the implementation of the procedures,” the statement said. On the other hand, the report states that “Law 55-19 on administrative simplification, passed in 2020, aims to streamline administrative processes by defining and standardizing document requirements, eliminating unnecessary steps, and enabling a fully digital process through the National Administration Portal launched in 2021, but only available in Arabic.”

Morocco is the only country in Africa that has a free trade agreement with the United States.

The report further notes that Morocco has ratified 72 investment treaties to encourage and protect investments and 62 economic agreements, including with the US and most EU countries, which aim to eliminate double taxation of income or profits.

The same publication also reports that the Kingdom is the only country on the African continent that has entered into a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, abolishing customs duties on more than 95% of consumer and industrial goods. The Moroccan government plans to phase out customs duties on certain goods until 2030.

According to the report, since the free trade agreement between the United States and Morocco came into force, bilateral trade in goods has increased almost fivefold. However, according to the same document, weak protection of intellectual property rights, inefficient bureaucracy, corruption, insufficient anti-money laundering safeguards, and slow regulatory reforms remain issues that need to be addressed for Morocco.