INVESTMENT CLIMATE IN MOROCCO
Openness to Foreign Investment
The Moroccan government actively encourages foreign investment and has made a number of regulatory changes designed to improve the investment climate in recent years. Morocco welcomes foreign participation in its privatization program, and does not pre-screen or select foreign investment projects.
In October 1995 the Moroccan Parliament approved a new investment code. The code applies equally to foreign and Moroccan investors, with the exception of the foreign exchange provisions which favor foreign investors. The Ministry of Finance and External Investment has created an investment promotion office and, in compliance with the investment code, is studying unspecified measures to reduce the paperwork associated with investment. The investment code also codifies the existing foreign exchange regulations providing essentially free repatriation of foreign exchange related to foreign investment.
In April 1996 the Moroccan state electric utility signed an agreement with the U.S. company CMS and the Swiss company ABB for an electric power project valued at approximately $1.5 billion that will produce electricity for sale to the utility. The Casablanca city council recently signed a deal with a French firm for the management of the Casablanca water and electricity distribution system. Private management of other infrastructure projects, including roads, ports, trash collection, and water and electric networks, are also under study.
Morocco has a non-discriminatory legal system that is accessible. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WINO) and is a party to the Berns Copyright, Paris Industrial Property, and Universal Copyright Conventions; the Brussels Satellite Convention; and the Madrid, Nice, and Hague Agreements for the Protection of Intellectual Property.
There are no foreign investor performance requirements or requirements regarding local value added, local equity, substitution of imports or employment of Moroccan workers.
Transparency of the Regulatory System
Morocco's economic reform program has included improvements in the regulatory environment. In particular, the liberalization of the foreign exchange allocation system, the import regime, and the financial sector have reduced the government's role in the economy.
The Casablanca stock exchange was privatized in 1993. It has enjoyed a recent revival thanks to new laws designed to make the exchange more efficient and transparent, and the government's sale of shares of parastatal companies to the public.
Conversion and Transfer Policies
The Moroccan dirham is convertible for all current transactions and for some capital transactions, notably capital repatriation by foreign investors if the original investment is registered with the foreign exchange office. Foreign exchange is routinely available through the commercial banks on presentation of documents for the repatriation of dividends and capital by foreign investors, for remittances by foreign residents, and for payments for foreign technical assistance, royalties and licenses. No prior government approval is required.