Morocco attracts French, Chinese investments in automotive industry

The investment agreements include the production of aluminium wheels, dashboards, bumpers, seats and electro-mechanical housings.

2017/12/17 Issue: 136 Page: 19

The Arab Weekly
Saad Guerraoui

Casablanca - Morocco is boosting its automotive industry with agreements with French and Chinese car manufacturers as it looks to build up its vehicle man­ufacturing sector into a job-creating powerhouse.

Morocco recently signed invest­ment agreements with French car manufacturers for the development of automotive supplies worth more than $1.1 billion.

“These agreements relate to the establishment of 26 factories of subcontractors, mainly for the French groups Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen, for investments of ($1.4 billion) and the creation of 11,568 direct jobs,” said Moroccan Minister of Industry Moulay Hafid Elalamy.

“The successes achieved in the in­dustrial sector in general and in the automotive sector in particular are the fruit of the vision traced under the leadership of [Moroccan King Mohammed VI],” said Elalamy dur­ing the signing ceremony presided over by the king in Casablanca.

The investment agreements in­clude the production of aluminium wheels, dashboards, bumpers, seats and electro-mechanical housings.

Renault, whose factory in north­ern Morocco is the largest car manu­facturer in Africa with a capacity to produce 340,000 vehicles annually, signed six agreements with equip­ment manufacturers. Morocco sup­plies Renault with machined parts worth more than $1 billion a year.

Peugeot, France’s largest carmak­er, signed 13 deals for the develop­ment of its PSA Peugeot Ecosystem.

With the expected opening of an assembly plant near the western city of Kenitra in 2019, PSA Peugeot Citroen hopes to sell 1 million vehi­cles in 2025 in Africa and the Middle East, including 200,000 in Morocco.

Elalamy said automotive industry investors chose Morocco for various reasons, including its security and highly skilled workforce.

Economy and Finance Minis­ter Mohammed Boussaid said the agreements allowed Morocco to boost automotive exports and have a positive effect on the country’s high value-added activities.

Morocco has become the largest car producer in the Middle East and North Africa region following an ambitious industrial acceleration plan begun in 2014. The automotive industry is the largest exporter in the country over the last two years, overtaking phosphates. Morocco projects auto industry exports to reach $10 billion a year by 2020.

Chinese electric carmaker BYD will become the third company to manufacture vehicles in Morocco after signing a memorandum of understanding December 10. BYD, the world’s largest seller of electric vehicles, is to open a factory near Tangier to build battery-powered cars, buses, trucks and trains.

“It’s a day of celebration as Mo­rocco fully enters in green mobility,” said Elalamy.

“We hope to benefit from Mo­rocco’s location as an entry point to Europe and the African market,” said BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu.

The 50-hectare factory in the new Mohammed VI Tangier Tech City will create 2,500 jobs. The Moham­med VI Tangier Tech City is part of a project between China and Morocco to involve several industries, in­cluding aerospace, automotive and agri-food over 2,000 hectares.

Elalamy said Rabat had taken time to choose its business partner.

“It took us more than eight months to work with BYD team to set out the project,” said Elalamy, adding that Wang was the suitable partner for Morocco in this sector.

The kingdom has been endors­ing environment-friendly policies in the past few years. Morocco has ordered 30 electric buses from Chi­nese operator Yangtse. Alsa, the leading company in the Spanish road passenger transport sector, won the tender to operate the buses in Marrakech.

A year ago, M’dina Bus, Casa­blanca’s public transport services company, unveiled its first “Made in Morocco” electric bus.

Saad Guerraoui is a regular contributor to The Arab Weekly on Maghreb issues.

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