Washington D.C. - The President of Banque Centrale Populaire Group (BCP) Mohamed Benchaâboun inaugurated on Tuesday in Washington, a new representative office in Washington D.C., making BCP the first ever Moroccan financial institution to open a representative office in the United States.
Washington D.C. – The President of Banque Centrale Populaire Group (BCP) Mohamed Benchaâboun inaugurated on Tuesday in Washington, a new representative office in Washington D.C., making BCP the first ever Moroccan financial institution to open a representative office in the United States.
The President and Morocco’s Ambassador to the United States, Rachad Bouhlal, together cut the ribbon at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held in the new office on Connecticut Avenue. The event was, attended by Ambassadors from six other African countries, hi-level officials of BCP, members of the Moroccan community in the greater Washington area, New York, Texas, and other states, as well a number of American business leaders.
Speaking during a celebratory dinner held afterward at the Mayflower Hotel, Mr. Benchaâboun said that the Representative Office, which received approval by the U.S. Federal Reserve in March 2014, “will facilitate the business relationship of the Moroccan community with Banque Populaire and put at the disposal of all of its customers the necessary information on financial products and services offered by the bank in Morocco.”
Noting that the Moroccan community had clearly expressed its “wish to see a first class Moroccan financial group established” in the U.S., he said, “Well — we listened.”
“Through the services offered by our Representative Office in Washington,” he continued, the 450,000 Moroccans in the U.S. “now have access to the banking, financial services, and benefits offered by the entire Banque Centrale Populaire network in Morocco.
“Our office serves as an intermediary between you and your bank in Morocco to open checking and savings accounts, apply for loans, use multiple investment instruments that are available in Morocco, and access Banque Populaire’s banking expertise to develop financing solutions for either your personal business or your business projects in Morocco. This is the primary purpose of our Representative Office and its fundamental mission.”
He went on to add that BCP will also take the necessary steps to establish agreements with the major U.S. financial institutions to make available to Moroccans “in the very near future” the means to make secure money transfers are faster and at reduced cost. “I know how important this is to you,” he said, highlighting the fact that money transfers received in Morocco from the United States had exceeded $500 million in 2014.
Mr. Benchaâboun pointed out that one of the group’s primary goals is to continue to play its role of “link” between Moroccans living abroad and their country of origin.
“The opening of the representative office is also part of our strategy to further strengthen our relations with the Moroccan diaspora wherever it resides, and enable its members to be close as possible to their regions of origin,” he noted.
Another important function of the Representative Office is to facilitate investment from the U.S., an area in which he said, “Our Representative Office in Washington has an extremely important role to play.” The office will “give potential American investors a better window on opportunities available” under the bank’s programs, and “allow us to bring all of the Group’s expertise to bear on implementing those opportunities,” he said.
“But that is not all,” he continued. The representative office in Washington has also been assigned the mission of identifying, promoting, and facilitating the “huge, as yet unexploited” opportunities of the Free Trade Agreement signed by Morocco and the United States in 2004.
Noting that establishing the Representative Office had not been easy, Mr. Benchaâboun sincerely thanked Ambassador Bouhlal for his “unfailing and constant support” of the project, especially during the “long and arduous” Federal Reserve approval process.
Ambassador Bouhlal, also offered some brief remarks, stressing that the inauguration of the new Moroccan banking platform of BCP is part of the spirit and letter of the “exceptional partnership between Morocco and the United States, particularly after the historic visit by His Majesty King Mohammed VI in Washington in November 2013, and the summit meeting at the White House between the Sovereign and President Barack Obama.”
He noted that such a move carries “promising prospects” for the development of economic and business relations, particularly in a tripartite approach that engages U.S., Moroccan, and sub-Saharan Africa business, in line with the ambitious partnership that tops the African strategy implemented by King Mohammed VI.
In a surprise move at the end of the dinner, the Moroccan community expressed its appreciation to BCP’s management, and presented engraved plaques to Mr. Benchaâboun, to the General Manager of BCP in charge of the project, Mr. Läidi El Wardi, and to Samira Hadri, the first head of BCP’s Representative Office in the U.S.