Morocco Shines as Key US Business and Security Ally at US-Africa Summit
Numerous Agreements Signed with US on Investment, Counterterrorism
Led by Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane, more than a dozen high-ranking Moroccan officials and business leaders made a strong case for Morocco’s key role in promoting economic development and stability in Africa at the just-concluded US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, which featured three days of official meetings, side panels, and one-on-one discussions. The Moroccan delegation attended more than 70 events that resulted in a number of public statements and signed agreements in the areas of business, education, counterterrorism, and more.
“The Summit proved to be a golden opportunity for African countries to showcase their diversity, strength, and dynamism,” said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward Gabriel. “Morocco, with its stability and remarkable economic growth at home, and strong, established relationships throughout the continent, shined as the ideal partner for the US as it seeks to build on the Summit’s success and increase its engagement in one of the fastest-growing areas of the world.”
A significant step was President Barack Obama’s announcement during the US-Africa Business Forum on August 5 that this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit will be held in Morocco. Now in its fifth year, the event is an extension of President Obama’s emphasis on entrepreneurship as a pillar of US global engagement, and serves as a platform of exchange between global business leaders and entrepreneurs
At the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce on August 4, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Mamoun Bouhdoud and President of the Moroccan Confederation of Businesses Miriem Bensalah Chaqroun delivered keynote speeches on the theme, “North Africa: Challenges and Opportunities in a Time of Transition.” On that same day, Morocco’s Minister of Industry and Trade Moulay Hafid Elalamy; Attijariwafa Bank CEO Mohamed El Kettani; and Casablanca Stock Exchange CEO Karim Hajji participated in a panel discussing The Atlantic Council’s latest brief: “Morocco’s Emergence as a Gateway to Business in Africa.” Coauthors Dr. J. Peter Pham and Dr. Ricardo Rene Laremont wrote, “Morocco is well-suited to serve as a bridge for American commercial diplomacy into the continent… and it is in the United States’ strategic interests to further deepen economic and commercial cooperation and cultivate stronger political and security partnerships with Morocco.”
Also on August 4, Mr. El Kettani signed a memorandum of understanding with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and Wells Fargo to expand lending to small and medium enterprises in Morocco. Today, one in two loans in Africa is made through a Moroccan bank, as Attijariwifa Bank has an established presence in 12 countries in Africa and is continuing its expansion on the continent.
On August 5, Executive Director of Morocco’s National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) Amina Benkhadra signed a memorandum of understanding with US companies Kosmos Energy and Chevron to provide training to engineering students at Morocco’s Ecole Mohammadia and National School of Mineral Industry.
In a strong show of Morocco’s important security role on the continent, Morocco, represented by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mbarka Bouaida, signed a Framework for Cooperation on Training for Civilian Security Services with the US to identify and support Moroccan security training experts and, beginning in September, provide joint training for civilian counterterrorism forces throughout the region. Several members of the Moroccan delegation were invited to speak on security issues throughout the week, including at The Atlantic Council, which hosted the event, “Designing Sustainable Solutions: A Roundtable on West African Security.”
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