Washington - Morocco’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Rachad Bouhlal, was honored yesterday as Ambassador of the Year by the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC).
Washington – Morocco’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Rachad Bouhlal, was honored yesterday as Ambassador of the Year by the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC).
At a luncheon amidst a gathering of dignitaries, friends, colleagues, and supporters at the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C., Ambassador Bouhlal received the Ambassador of the Year award for his outstanding advocacy and service as Morocco’s Ambassador to the United States.
Before presentation of the award, the celebration featured the testimonials of a long list of friends and fans of the Ambassador. Former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, Ed Gabriel, a close personal friend, said, “The decision made by His Majesty King Mohamed VI to select Rachad Bouhlal as the new Ambassador was a deliberate one to put someone in place who would accomplish His Majesty’s mission to make Morocco a hub for Africa,” said Ambassador Gabriel. “It is truly remarkable what [Ambassador Bouhlal] has done to carry out the King’s vision.” Ambassador Gabriel said that Ambassador Bouhlal is a “great interlocutor,” a pilot, and a world class golfer, whose success, he jokingly quipped, “is due in large part to his wife, Fatiha.” Remarking that Ambassador Bouhlal cares not only about business but about his country’s culture, he concluded, “You truly are a real Renaissance man, Rachad.”
The current US Ambassador to Morocco, Dwight Bush, who was unable to attend, sent his congratulations, saying that Ambassador Bouhlal “represents the best of the diplomatic craft,” and “the diplomatic corps needs more people like Ambassador Bouhlal.”
Others also remarked upon Ambassador Bouhlal’s ability to persuade and advocate to the host government on behalf of his country, and to explain the host country to leaders back home, the two key jobs of an ambassador. Governor Jack Markell of Delaware, Deputy Secretary Ken Hyatt, Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade of the Department of Commerce, all praised Ambassador Bouhlal’s contributions to diplomacy and US-Morocco relations.
The Ambassador “knows how to get round the dysfunction in Washington by getting out of Washington and visiting the states,” said Governor Markell. Hyatt highlighted the atmosphere of “opportunity, optimism, and openness” characterizing US-Morocco business relations fostered by the Ambassador’s “skill as a persuader, advocate, and ambassador.”
Three of the nine state Honorary Consuls for Morocco — Jim Falk (Texas), Marilyn Diamond (Illinois), and Nana Lampton (Kentucky) — offered their congratulations.
The most important remarks came from Ambassador Bouhlal himself. Noting that the US-Morocco relationship started with trade, he said that with his economic background he understands how trade can influence politics. He said he has tried to strengthen relations “by putting trade on top.” Referencing the oft-cited fact that Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the US, he said, “We recognized your country ten years before you did yourself!”
Focussing on what he has tried to accomplish, he said, “If you want to do something, you need to go elsewhere than Washington in the US. I’ve been to 25 states in three years: states are so important.” He said he is working on the next state governor trip to Morocco. Highlighting the successes with the State of Delaware, he said this is an “opportunity to show that exports to the US create jobs.” He noted the plethora of US companies that have invested in and opened offices in Morocco — Boeing, Coca Cola, GE, Ford, Chevron, and Moneygram — not because “I have persuaded them to do it, but because they can make money.”
“Why do they come?,” he asked. “They come because of the political stability. Morocco has free trade agreements not just with the US, but the EU, Turkey, and Jordan. These open up more and bigger markets,” he said. “They come because of good public infrastructure. They come because they find education and training and good schools. They come to Morocco because of something very special: the public-private partnerships. Public and private stakeholders get together to define a strategy for a sector. This provides for economic stability. And finally, there is no risk of expropriation [of capital].”
As to the future, the Ambassador said he would keep making his visits to the individual states. Plans for the next US-Morocco business conference are already underway, with Atlanta and Seattle in the running, or “maybe both,” he said.
He concluded his remarks with a “special word for our Moroccan-Americans living and working in the US.” Although they may be small in numbers, he said, “wherever I go, I always find one.”
David Hamod, President and CEO of NUSACC, said, “For each of the past ten years, NUSACC has identified an outstanding ambassador who has contributed significantly to U.S. – Arab commercial relations. This is the first time that we have selected an ambassador from the Kingdom of Morocco, which speaks volumes about the excellent work that Ambassador Bouhlal has done. NUSACC is exceptionally pleased to honor him with this award.”
NUSACC, widely regarded as the voice of American business in the Arab world, is a trade association whose core mission is to strengthen U.S.-Arab relationships through mutually beneficial trade and investment. NUSACC serves as the US point of contact for 22 Arab nations, creating strong relationships between Arab and American Embassies as a critical element of the Chamber’s efforts to promote business and investment opportunities between the United States and the Arab world.