50th Anniversary of AmCham in Morocco
May 13, 2016
Thank you, Rabia, and thank you Walter and the members of the Board of AmCham for including me in this great event to mark the 50th anniversary of the American Chamber of Commerce in Morocco. Congratulations to you, your staff, and your business partners on 50 years of continued success in Morocco.
I am honored to be here this evening with you, Minister (TBD) and this distinguished audience. The presence of the Ministers here today symbolizes the support that the Moroccan Government extends to American investors and innovators. Your presence symbolizes the hard work that you have put into developing a strong industrial and commercial base in this country.
When AmCham first arrived in Morocco 50 years ago, it was a far different country than the one we see today. The economy was primarily agricultural-based, and there were economic issues of budget deficits and slow per capita growth. Yet, despite these challenges, there was an emerging industrial sector, a small but growing entrepreneurial class, and the beginnings of an industrial labor force. Economic infrastructure – transportation, communications, electric energy – were all at an advanced stage for 1966.
Most importantly, then as now, the beauty of the country, its people, and its climate offered rich opportunities for those willing to take a risk.
AmCham members were willing to take that risk. Your contributions have added greatly to the economic growth of Morocco; moreover, your activities here have helped to strengthen the bilateral relationship between our two countries.
If you look back more than 50 years, you will see that strong economic and commercial relations have always provided a foundation for the Moroccan-U.S. relationship. In a letter dated 1789 to the Kingdom of Morocco from George Washington, he talks about the desire of the young nation to build its resources to become useful to its friend Morocco, who has generously given to our commerce and observed a treaty with our young nation. This treaty is still in effect today. When you look around Morocco today, you see that many American firms have fulfilled that wish and are contributing to a dynamic, prosperous and forward thinking Moroccan economy.
Morocco offered you decisive strategic and long-term profitable factors for investors – an ideal location with a foothold in both Europe and African markets, unique free trade agreements across both continents and in the Americas, competitive labor costs, and a business friendly environment. In return, U.S.-owned firms in Morocco have built factories and contributed to developing market clusters in the automotive, aerospace, energy, consumer goods, and many other sectors while employing 10’s of thousands of Moroccan workers.
As I reflect back on the long standing relationship between the Kingdom of Morocco and the United States of America, the economic cooperation between the businesses of our nations, and the friendships between our peoples, I am encouraged that this strong foundation will lead to limitless possibilities for the future.
Of course, there will be challenges in the years ahead; U.S. firms investing here will find it necessary to adapt to new technologies, commit to work force and language development, and develop ecologically friendly industrial practices. While the Moroccan government will face the challenges of implementing systems for interagency coordination, adapting Western industrial standards and rule of law for the growing export economy, and implementing programs for sustainable urban growth and rural development.
I am confident that based on our long and mutually beneficial history of cooperation we will meet these challenges head on and continue in the spirit of friendship that has made both our countries more prosperous.
Thank you for allowing me to join you today and, once again, congratulations to AmCham on your accomplishments during your first 50 years in Morocco. I wish you and your companies much continued success in the future.