Washington D.C. - Last week, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. government’s development finance institution specializing in investing in the private sector abroad, announced that it will double or even triple its $200 million investments in Morocco.
Washington D.C. – Last week, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. government’s development finance institution specializing in investing in the private sector abroad, announced that it will double or even triple its $200 million investments in Morocco.
On the sidelines of a meeting with the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (GCEM) last Wednesday in Casablanca, OPIC said that its objective is to reach $500 to $600 million in engaged capital, slightly more than MAD 5 billion. The Americans are eyeing several strategic sectors in the kingdom, including renewable energy, infrastructure, and tourism.
“We intend to diversify our portfolio in Morocco with priority sectors,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, CEO of OPIC. “We are very responsive to the funding requests by investors,” she added.
At the meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce and CGEM, the organization representing Moroccan businesses, Ms. Littlefield addressed “OPIC’s offering of development financing and political risk insurance to U.S. connected private investors seeking to expand to the region.”
Last August, OPIC finalized an agreement with Attijariwafa Bank Group on the sidelines of the first U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington, D.C., in which nearly 50 African nations participated.
Morocco World News interviewed a consultant about what had gone on behind closed doors during the OPIC meeting. He spoke with us on condition of anonymity about the implications of “political risk” to U.S.-connected private investors. Citing a number of risks that may affect U.S. companies’ investments, including tax policies that may change with Morocco’s upcoming elections next year, he emphasized the importance of good governance for political stability and said that “USAID spent $2.9 million in 2013 for programs on good governance.”
He expressed concern, however, that the Moroccans did not allocate any of those dollars to training government officials on anti-corruption measures. He also said that USAID’s work matters because “countries with ineffective government, corruption, and weak rule of law have 30 to 45 percent higher risk of civil war and criminal violence,” than those without those characteristics.
On the same note, a U.S. commercial delegation of ten leading security industry firms led by Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis, Marcus Jadotte, was in Morocco last week.
The delegation’s visit provided an opportunity to present the latest technologies geared towards infrastructure security and safety in Morocco. The visit also aimed to support the efforts that have been undertaken in Morocco with respect to improving infrastructure, notably at ports and airports, according to Assistant Secretary Jadotte. Securing the infrastructure will have a positive impact on trade between the two countries, he said.
The U.S. commercial delegation included representatives of leading U.S. security and safety industry firms namely: Comm Port Technologies, Inc. (Cranbury, N.J.), Galaxy Control Systems (Walkersville, Md.), Gichner/Kratos Modular Systems Division (Dallastown, Pa.), Lenco Armored Vehicles (Pittsville, Mass.), Louisiana State University-National Ctr for Biomedical Research & Training (Baton Rouge, La.), Morpho Detection, LLC. (Wilmington, Mass.), Motorola Solutions, Inc. (Washington, D.C.), Navajo Fabrics (Westerly, R.I.), NBC Security (Great Falls, Va.), Prism Lighting Services, LLC. (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Tactical Electronics Corporation (Melbourne, Fla.)
“The safety and security product and services sectors are in high demand in this region,” according to Assistant Secretary Jadotte who was was quoted by the International Trade Administration (ITA). Jadotte added: “I am pleased to lead this impressive group of U.S. companies that offer world-class products and services to strengthen security and provide enhanced safety to citizens in North Africa.”
The statements of both delegations emphasize the need for a serious effort to tackle the issue of corruption in Morocco, all the way from small localized incidents such as requests for bribes by officials at Mohamed V International Airport, about which MWN exclusively reported last week, to larger endemic corruption.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy