Interview: Hicham Boudraa

What is the benefit and significance of strengthening South-South relationships?

HICHAM BOUDRAA: In recent years, especially after the 2008 economic crisis, Africa has become a coveted continent and a major strategic actor in the international scene. For nearly two decades, Africa has seen the largest economic growth in the world, averaging 5-6% per year across the continent. Investments have increased five-fold over 10 years, undisturbed by even the global recession. Morocco, through the vision of King Mohammed VI, has chosen a development model that includes win-win partnerships and South-South cooperation.

Morocco recently joined the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which will be the largest free trade area in the world by 2030. Once implemented, AfCFTA will bring together as many as 55 states, representing a market of 1.2bn individuals and a combined GDP of $2.5trn. The goal of the agreement is to boost intra-African trade by 52%, to reach a total trade volume of $35bn by 2022.

Africa is currently home to approximately 1.3bn people, representing around 16% of the world’s population; by 2050, however, Africa will be home to a quarter of the global population, or some 2.5bn people. Africa as a continent will have the highest average annual population growth rate and will be the only region in the world to have less than a quarter of its population over 60 years of age.

Which measures have been implemented to reinforce Morocco’s investment climate?

BOUDRAA: Morocco has been working to liberalise its economy on many fronts by easing investment procedures, offering better protections to private operators by promulgating new laws to improve investment conditions throughout the country.

Morocco benefits from a labour code that is in conformity with the basic principles of the Moroccan constitution, as well as with international standards as outlined in various conventions of the UN. The Law on Copyright and Neighbouring Rights emphasises measures that aim to strengthen and modernise rights and protections for creators and their works.

The Law of Protection of Industrial Property outlines new procedures for opposing trademarks, border measures for counterfeit goods, protections for sound and olfactory marks, and processes for trademark registration in electronic form. Moreover, price liberalisation and free competition laws define the rules for the protection of competition and aim to stimulate economic efficiency, which together improve consumer welfare and ensure transparency and fairness in all commercial relations.

In what ways is Morocco working to further encourage foreign direct investment?

BOUDRAA: In order to guarantee a clear and transparent framework that is conducive to investment, the National Business Environment Committee ( Commission Nationale de l’Environnement des Affaires, CNEA) was established in December 2009. CNEA serves as a public-private platform for dialogue on improving the business climate and monitoring Morocco’s image abroad. It is a major force for the implementation and evaluation of national reforms.

In parallel, several integrated industrial platforms and a comprehensive programme for the creation of economic zones were recently put in place, accompanied by a full rehabilitation plan for several industrial zones. The main objective is to enable regions to strengthen their industries and encourage private investment. These two programmes, with an estimated budget of $10m, aim to increase the availability of land for future industries, provide entrepreneurs with all they need to pursue their industrial projects and to develop the untapped potential of several regional industrial opportunities.