On August 31st, I had the enormous pleasure of being in Tetouan to participate in the signing ceremony of the nearly $698 million compact between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
It was a momentous and historic occasion for the government and people of Morocco. I was struck by the profound sense of pride and accomplishment. The compact captures the vision and priorities articulated by Moroccans themselves for their own
- economic growth,
- increased prosperity, and
- sustainable development.
The compact’s investments in
- fruit tree productivity,
- small-scale fisheries, and
- artisan crafts
will increase productivity in these high potential sectors and create jobs. Strengthening financial services and enterprise support will complement these investments. As a comprehensive program, the MCC-Morocco compact will contribute significantly to making Morocco’s promise to reduce poverty through economic growth a reality for Moroccans.
The compact is a clear indication of Morocco’s ongoing commitment to
- liberalization, and
that is good for business.
Located at the strategic crossroads of
- Africa, and
- the Middle East,
Morocco is a natural magnet for international business and investment. Today’s forum focuses on exploring new business and investment opportunities in Morocco that will result from the MCC partnership. It is fitting that the Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center and the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce should partner with us to make this event possible. I thank both organizations for their support and for this opportunity to highlight two interconnected ways MCC is contributing to a pro-business, pro-investment climate in all partner countries, including in Morocco.
First, MCC requires policy performance that creates the right conditions for doing business. It is a significant step for a developing country to qualify and remain eligible for MCC assistance. As an innovative approach to development assistance, MCC is a bilateral, American program that provides grants—not loans—to countries that are doing the right things for their economies and for their citizens for the right reasons. We respond to
- good government,
- good governance,
- countries that invest in their people, and
- provide economic freedom
—all of this being the foundation upon which we can build programs for the reduction of poverty and sustained economic growth and contribute to stability and security.
MCC’s performance-based approach to assistance complements a country’s own efforts to practice sound
- political, and
- economic policies
and to make ongoing and necessary reforms to continue doing so. This includes putting policies in place that create the right conditions for doing business.
Because MCC requires good performance on measures of
- regulatory, and
- trade conditions
—including the costs and days required to start a business—we create a powerful incentive for countries to foster a business climate where the private sector can flourish. The indicators we use measure corruption and emphasize
- the rule of law,
- predictability in regulatory and legal procedures,
- the enforceability of contracts, and
- the protection of intellectual property rights
—all vital tools in creating and protecting a business- and investment-friendly environment in MCC partner countries. This stimulates
- homegrown entrepreneurship,
- small business development,
- increased trade,
- and, of course, investor opportunities both for domestic and international companies.
Businesses and investors view MCC eligibility and selection as providing countries with a “good government imprimatur.” The Finance Minister of Indonesia has said that being a MCC partner isn’t just about the money – it’s also about having the “good housekeeping seal of approval,” which sends a powerful signal to private investors that conditions are right in MCC countries for investing and doing business.
Like all MCC partnerships, Morocco’s partnership with MCC gives the Kingdom this “good housekeeping seal of approval” and provides investors and businesses with yet another reason to partner with Morocco.
Second, MCC complements the agenda of reform already underway in Morocco. Morocco’s compact does not exist—nor will it succeed—in a vacuum. Rather, it is part of Morocco’s own national agenda for growth and economic development. The compact leverages and complements the reforms already underway to modernize and strengthen existing sectors and to make targeted investments in those industries—such as
- fishing, and
- artisan crafts
—in which Morocco has a competitive advantage. The compact also better positions Morocco to take further advantage of the ever-emerging opportunities created through free trade agreements with
- the United States,
- the European Union, and
- many others.
The conditions MCC
- reinforces, and
help make Morocco an even more attractive venue for investing and doing business. I invite the business community to leverage MCC investments in Morocco and use them for complementary or parallel investments of your own.
MCC’s role is to help our partner countries transition from dependence on foreign assistance to the independence of sustainable, investment-driven development, so as to have a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of the poor. This is what brings us together today, and this is why the Millennium Challenge Corporation welcomes partnering with the private sector in Morocco and in all our partner countries.
Introduction of Ambassador Mekouar
It’s now my pleasure to turn the podium over to a good friend and a good friend to MCC, His Excellency Ambassador Aziz Mekouar, Morocco’s Ambassador to the United States. Ambassador Mekouar has had a distinguished career and has previously served as Morocco’s ambassador to
- Portugal, and
His leadership and personal support during the development of the Morocco-MCC compact have been invaluable, and I am pleased to welcome him here today.