The moroccan press
The Kingdom of Morocco strongly condemns the terror attack that targeted, on Monday, the Manchester Arena concert hall, causing several casualties, including 22 deaths and dozens of wounded, said the ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
"Following this abject crime, contrary to all moral and universal values, the Kingdom of Morocco expresses its full solidarity with the Government of the United Kingdom," the ministry said in a statement.
Morocco will build a new university in the northern city of Al Hoceima to enable students of the province to pursue their higher education.
Minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, Mohammed Hassad, on Tuesday paid a prospection visit to find a site that will accommodate this new university, one of the claims expressed by the local population.
The minister told the press that this field visit is part of consultations with local and elected officials to find the land lot that will host the new university.
Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, hailed the initiatives taken by HM King Mohammed VI in protecting and preserving world heritage.
“I have come here to express my deep admiration and respect for HM King Mohammed VI for all that he does for the protection and preservation of world heritage”, Bokova told the press following the presentation ceremony of the program of rehabilitation of the old Medersas of Fes, chaired by HM King Mohammed VI.
Madagascar’s National Assembly Speaker, Jean Max Rakotomamonjy, on Tuesday Praised the exceptional relations between his country and Morocco.
During talks with Habib El Malki, Speaker of the House of Representatives (lower house), Rakotomamonjy praised the excellent relations between the two countries, especially after the historic visit of HM King Mohammed VI to Madagascar last November, highlighting the multiple agreements signed between the two countries on this occasion.
Diplomats at the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization meeting in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines witnessed an unprecedented event last week. According to a Moroccan official, a heated discussion ended with the director general of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hitting the deputy of the Moroccan ambassador to Saint Lucia in his face, reportedly knocking him out and sending him to the hospital.
A couple of sources claim to have seen the medical and police reports that confirm this version. However, Algerian government officials argue the fight was staged. Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita told the French Press Agency (AFP) that Algeria should “contribute to a solution and assume responsibility in the matter (…) assume the consequences of its actions.” Leaving all questioning about how things went down in this particular meeting aside, the relationship between Morocco and Algeria has been tense for years.
This derives from a long-standing dispute over the sovereignty of Western Sahara and, most recently, from Morocco’s return to the African Union and its allegations that Algeria was forcing Syrian refugees out of the latter and into the former. So what does this mean for stability in the Northern African region and for the fight against terrorism on a global scale? See Also: Morocco And The U.S.: Top African Businessman Talks About Bilateral Relationship Under Trump.
The Rising Temperature Dr. Magnus Norell, a Senior Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD), adjunct scholar of The Washington Institute, and former senior analyst and project leader at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, said this kind of altercation was unprecedented in a U.N. diplomatic setting. However, “[it says] something about the tension between these two countries.”
“On a wider scale, the attack reflects the frustration Algeria must be feeling due to the fact that it has lost some traction in the last year, especially when it comes to dealing with the issue of Western Sahara [and the Polisario Front they support, which is opposed to the Moroccan government’s presence in the territory],” said Dr. Norell.
“If you want to measure the temperature here, I think that this is a good sign of where things stand.” “I think this also reflects the fact that Morocco has been gaining some traction within the African Union [in detriment of Algeria’s power] and in the E.U. In fact, they recently presented ideas for a diplomatic solution to the Western Sahara issue. This has not made Algeria very happy.”
Morocco’s Proposal Norell explained why Morocco’s proposed solution to the Western Sahara conflict isn’t making Algeria happy. “In essence, Morocco’s plan would keep Algeria out of Western Sahara, giving the Sahrawi people self-determination,” he said. “This would not mean they would be fully independent, although they would be self-ruled, in a sense, while still protected by King Mohammed VI of Morocco. And, of course, that would be detrimental for the Algerian interest, because they would love to have a Polisario presence there, which means that they get an access to the Atlantic Ocean.”
Interestingly, Morocco’s proposal has been gaining traction among African states, especially since the country’s return to the African Union – and also due to the positive influence the Kingdom has had over the region in recent decades, Norell said. See Also: The Challenges Of Conducting Business In Africa: ‘We Are Facing Global Competition For Talent’
International Security Norell, an expert on international security issues like terrorism and radical Islamic extremism, went into the implications of this conflict for the safety of the Western world. “In Western Sahara, Morocco has been filling a hole,” he said. “Formerly, a lot of bad people, extremists, were coming into Europe through Western Sahara, but that is not the case any longer. Now, these people are getting into Europe through Algeria and Libya. So, Morocco’s role in the security of Europe and Northern Africa is seriously important.”
“Clearly Morocco is not afraid to take the lead in being the progressive leader in moderate Muslim countries and in combating fanaticism,” Norell said, pointing out some examples that back this statement, like Morocco’s recent capture and delivery [to the U.S.] of a couple of fugitive terrorists. One expert Benzinga spoke with who asked not be named said “Morocco is like the canary in the coal mine,” highlighting the efforts of Driss El Yazami, Chairman of Morocco’s National Council of Human Rights, to improve the situation in Western Sahara.
A Bet On Stability Investors often ask how they can invest in African companies. While most of them don’t trade in the NYSE or Nasdaq because, as prominent businessman Saad Bendidi explained, the market would likely grant discounted valuations to these companies, a few are either listed in these major exchanges or trade over-the-counter in the U.S. Africa-focused ETFs include:
iShares MSCI South Africa Index (ETF) EZA, +1.09%
Market Vectors Africa (ETF) AFK, +0.79%
Market Vectors Egypt Index ETF EGPT, +0.04%
SPDR S&P Emerging Middle Est & Afrca ETF GAF, +1.20%
Your Oil and Gas
SDX Energy reported income of US$26.9 million for the first quarter of the year, although this was largely based on its acquisition of Circle Oil’s Egyptian and Moroccan businesses, which provided a US$29.5 million gain.
Netbacks from production for the period, meanwhile, were US$6.1 million, generating US$3.1 million of net cash.
Setting out its results on May 19, the company said production from Egypt’s North West Gemsa and Meseda assets had provided 1,904 boepd and 646 bpd respectively, while Morocco contributed another 441 boepd.
SDX completed the acquisition of Circle on January 27, for US$28.1 million.
“We were pleased to announce a successful drilling result at South Disouq, making a gas discovery in the first target and encountering reservoir horizons and evidence of a working petroleum system at the second target,” said SDX’ president and CEO, Paul Welch. “We have also made strong operational progress in Morocco and given the attractive local gas market, [we] are on track to drill seven additional wells this year to further grow our high margin production in the region.”
On the Meseda asset, SDX reported that a six-well workover programme had been completed, intended to improve future production. The company also acquired a two-phase separator for the project, which is being shipped to the block from the United Arab Emirates. A tender for six electrical submersible pumps (ESPs) was launched and these should contribute to increased production in the third quarter of this year.
On the South Disouq licence, the company drilled the SD-1X exploration well, making a gas discovery but failing in its hopes for a deeper oil find.
Despite this, the well did demonstrate that a working petroleum system was present. Testing on the gas discovery is planned, while the company is also working on development ideas, with the aim of achieving commercial production by the first quarter of 2018.
Furthermore, it has not abandoned its hopes for the deeper oil potential in the area.
SDX intends to drill a well on the South Ramadan concession in 2018 and has asked the government for an extension to allow this work to proceed.
SDX intends to drill three development and two exploration wells on the Sebou permit, in Morocco, in the first half of 2017. Two exploration wells are planned for Lalla Mimouna, on which the permit has been extended until March 2018.
In addition to the Morocco plans, SDX also intends to carry out a substantial work programme in Egypt. A 12-well workover programme is planned on North West Gemsa, continuing its ESP installation work, intended to improve future production at the site.
On Meseda, it plans to drill two development wells and two exploration wells, in addition to its ESP work and waterflood programme.
The statement went on to make it clear that its acquisition of Circle’s Egyptian and Moroccan assets were not the end of its ambitions, noting it was interested in further expansion in North Africa.
Written by Rita Brown
UK based Sound Energy this morning doubled its estimates for first phase volumes from its Moroccan play.
It comes after it completed the drilling of its third well at Tendrara in Eastern Morocco, TE-8, achieving Target Depth at 3,120 metres.
Chief executive James Parsons said: “I am delighted to confirm our third well in Eastern Morocco as the definitive Paleozoic play opener with thick Westphalian sands which should be producible across the region.
“Despite a relatively tight TAGI reservoir, the confirmation of the Gas Water Contact at 1,350 metres has enabled the Company to double its internal TAGI estimates and materially increase first phase development volumes.
“We eagerly look forward to commencing the 2D exploration seismic programme in August and continuing operations in Eastern Morocco once we have finished at Sidi Moktar.
“In the meantime, we are focused entirely on the rapidly approaching results at Badile and Sidi Moktar.”
Separately, the firm appointed Brian Mitchener, Sound Energy’s executive vice president of exploration, to the Sound Energy board of directors as exploration director.
Morocco’s Ambassador to Austria, Lotfi Bouchaara, was elected on Monday as first vice-president of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ), during the 26th session of the Commission, which runs through May 26.
Morocco's net international reserves amounted to 241.9 billion dirhams until May 12, 2017, Bank Al-Maghrib said.
During the week of May 11-17, Bank Al-Maghrib injected 20 billion dirhams.
As for the interbank rate, it remained at 2.28%, while the average trading volume increased from 4.9 billion dirhams one week before to 5.5 billion dirhams, the central bank pointed out in its weekly indicators.
During the same period, the Dirham depreciated by 0.86% against the Euro and appreciated by 1.35% against the dollar.
MAP 22 May 2017
Aaron Mike Oquaye, Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament expressed, here Monday, his country's willingness to take advantage of the pioneering Moroccan experience in Africa in several vital sectors.
by Samia Errazzouki
The first Islamic bank in Morocco, Umnia Bank, has opened its doors five months after the country’s central bank approved requests to open Islamic financial institutions.
Islamic banks and insurers are setting up in Morocco after new legislation allowed them into the market, and the central bank has set up a central sharia board, a body of Islamic scholars, to oversee the sector.
The North African country long rejected Islamic banking because of concern about Islamist movements, but its financial markets lack liquidity and foreign investors, and Islamic finance could attract both of those.
Umnia Bank, a joint venture of Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) and Moroccan lender Credit Immobilier et Hotelier S.A. (CIH Bank), opened a total of three agencies in the country on Monday, including two in Casablanca and one in Rabat.
The bank plans to open more branches throughout the country, it said in a statement.
On Tuesday afternoon, Umnia Bank’s branch in Rabat attracted a significant amount of clients, including people simply curious about Islamic financing.
“I have an account with CIH Bank and I just came by here to learn more about what the difference is,” said one client.
Umnia Bank, attached next to a CIH Bank branch, is just a few blocks away from the forthcoming Dar Assafaa, Attijariwafa Bank’s Islamic finance subsidiary.
“As a Muslim, I’m happy we finally have Islamic banks in the country,” said Ritaj, a mother of three, who drove three hours from Tangiers to open an account.
The branch was still ironing out technical problems. The director still had not received details for a prospective client about margins for a murabaha transaction — one of the Islamic instruments that is compliant to sharia law.
Morocco is the most advanced of North African neighbours in developing Islamic finance. Tunisia and Algeria are also starting to explore the banking based on religious principles which avoid interest and pure monetary speculation.
Islamic finance has been growing over the past decade as it broadens its investor base across the Middle East, North Africa, Africa and southeast Asia, tapping into conservative religious clients.
(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; editing by Patrick Markey)
Washington, DC, May 22, 2017, Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) – In the twelve years since its implementation, the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has dramatically exceeded the predictions initially set by the United States International Trade Commission (ITA), according to a new report published today by the Moroccan American Center for Policy chronicling the origins and impact of the deal.
“In broad terms, the ITA… predicted that US exports were ‘likely to increase by $740.0 million, and US imports from Morocco [were] likely to increase by $198.6 million,’” stated the report, titled “Exceeding Expectations: The US-Morocco FTA.” “US exports were able to hit this target by 2007, in just its second year of implementation. Through mostly sustained improvement up to 2016, US exports to Morocco have actually increased by about $1.4 billion, amounting to a 286 percent boost.” Meanwhile, “Moroccan exports to the US reached their target in 2008,” and since 2010 “have seen consistent improvement,” growing by about $560 million overall.
The report notes that of the six US free trade agreements implemented between 2004 and 2010 (Chile and Singapore in 2004, Bahrain and Morocco in 2006, and Oman and Peru in 2009), “Morocco’s success stands out among this group. In the first two years following implementation, US exports to Morocco shot up by 118 percent, nearly double the percentage of the next most successful over a similar time period . Moroccan exports to the US grew by 18 percent as total bilateral trade grew by 68 percent—the highest among this group of FTA partners. In terms of jobs, the Morocco FTA was again the top performer, with an estimated 101 percent increase in US jobs supported by exports to Morocco over the same period.”
In addition to generating economic benefits for both countries, the FTA kicked off a series of initiatives further strengthening the US-Morocco bilateral relationship and Morocco’s reform trajectory, “one of the US’s primary goals” for the deal. Indeed the report offers an overview of the largely political impetus behind the FTA— the US’s first in Africa — noting that it was seen by President George W. Bush’s Administration as a reward for Morocco’s support in the war on terror and as recognition of the two countries’ centuries-old friendship. Congressional support for this view and for the possibility of opening new markets for US exports was overwhelming. In July 2004, the US Senate voted 85-13 in favor of the United States-Morocco Free Trade Implementation Act; and the House of Representatives followed suit with a 323-99 vote in favor. The momentum continued, and in 2007 and again in 2013, Morocco signed two consecutive Millennium Challenge Corporation Compacts; and in 2012, the US and Morocco launched a bilateral Strategic Dialogue—one of about two dozen such agreements in existence.
“From both a political and economic standpoint, the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement is a prime example of trade policy done right, where both sides benefit, and where the United States strengthens a relationship with a critical friend and ally,” said report author and MACP Director of Research & Policy Analysis David S. Bloom.
Contact: Jordana Merran, 202.470.2049
The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.
This material is distributed by the Moroccan American Center for Policy on behalf of the Government of Morocco. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.
The post New Report Shows US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement Far Exceeded ITA Expectations appeared first on Morocco On The Move.
On January 1st, 2017, the US-Morocco FTA (Free Trade Agreement) began its 12th year enforcing liberalized commercial exchange between two historic allies. The FTA has surpassed moderate expectations for its economic impact, and has been a success story for both sides. This paper will describe how Morocco became the US’s first free-trade partner in Africa, and evaluate its economic and political impact compared to expectations. Finally, avenues for improving the FTA and general US-Morocco economic cooperation will be evaluated.
Click the image below to view the report:
A delegation of the Italian-Moroccan Inter-Parliamentary Union expressed, on Thursday in the southern city of Laayoune, their satisfaction with the development projects initiated in the southern provinces, stressing that the “reality contrasts with the false allegations of the Polisario”.
Malawi's withdrawal of its recognition of the SADR is "a positive sign of the growing acceptance of Morocco’s legitimacy" over the Sahara, the Ghana Institute of Governance and Security (GIGS) said.
"According to GIGS, the solidarity of the vast majority of African Union (AU) countries is indicative of the international legality and the truth about the artificial conflict" around the Sahara, Ghanaian news paper 'The Ghanaian Times' reported.
The United Nations announced, On Friday afternoon, that Christopher Ross has ceased, since April 30, to hold the position of the United Nations Personal Envoy for the Sahara.
"Concerning a question asked at the daily press briefing, we wish to clarify that Christopher Ross has ceased, since April 30, 2017, to assume the role of the personal envoy of the secretary-general for the Sahara," said UN spokesman Farhan Haq in a clarification sent to journalists accredited to the UN.
Foreign minister Nasser Bourita underlined, on Sunday in Riyadh, the need and the importance of solid ties between countries of the Arab-Islamic World and the United States to address the challenges facing the region.
In a statement to MAP, on the sidelines of the Arab-Islamic-American Summit, Bourita underscored the importance of inaugurating a new era in relations between the Arab-Islamic World and the United States given the challenges facing the region and linked mainly to terrorism and the meddling by some states in the domestic affairs of Muslim countries.
Russia commends the economic, social, and political reforms undertaken by Morocco, a country known for its stability in the MENA region and worldwide, said Russia's ambassador to Rabat Valery Vorobiev.
Russia also welcomes the foreign policy of Morocco, Vorobiev said in a speech on Friday at a ceremony held at the Russian embassy on the occasion of his country's national day, noting that the entire world has witnessed the enormous efforts made by HM King Mohammed VI for the return of the Kingdom to the African Union (AU) after a long absence.
The actions of HM King Mohammed VI in Africa have always been in favor of a continent more responsive to changes, more present on the international scene and more attentive to diversities, said Youssef Amrani, Chargé de mission at the Royal Cabinet, who was speaking, on Friday in Casablanca, at a forum on "The rise of nationalisms: What future for globalization?"
By Julia Payne
U.S. private equity firm Carlyle Group is suing a group of its insurers over $400 million worth of oil it claims it lost when Morocco’s sole refinery went bankrupt two years ago, court documents show.
Carlyle claims in a suit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York that insurance underwriters led by Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Underwriting (now known as MS Amlin) have reneged on their obligations when refusing to cover the losses, according to documents on the court’s website.
Insurers have said in response to the suit that the nature of Carlyle’s dealings with Samir, the refinery’s operator, mean that its losses are not covered by the type of insurance it had.
They also say Carlyle did not alert them early enough about the plant’s financial troubles.
The rare public case provides an insight into dealings between insurers and commodity trading firms, which take big risks when supplying raw materials to clients in financial difficulty.
The case also sheds more light on the collapse of Samir, which became the biggest casualty of the oil price crash of 2014-2015, leaving some of the world’s biggest trading firms including Carlyle with unpaid debts of over $1 billion.
Carlyle declined to comment on the position of the insurers. Samir and the Moroccan state-appointed liquidator for the refinery declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
Carlyle Commodity Management, a subsidiary of Carlyle Group formerly called Vermillion Asset Management, said in the court filing it had about 7 million barrels of crude and oil products stored at Morocco’s 200,000 barrel per day refinery in Mohammedia in 2015 prior to its stoppage.
The refinery was shut down in August 2015 after the Moroccan government imposed a $1.35 billion unpaid tax bill on Samir and froze its accounts.
The crisis at the refinery unfolded as oil prices crashed from the middle of 2014, drastically reducing the value of oil Samir bought and held in its tanks for refining purposes.
Carlyle says that during 2015 Samir emptied the tanks without its consent.
Carlyle filed the first request for cover to its insurers in January 2016 concluding that the oil could not be recovered.
In late February this year, Carlyle’s insurers denied any cover, leading Carlyle to launch a lawsuit against the underwriters in early March, according to the court documents.
The litigation is still ongoing.
In their answer to the claim, the underwriters said Carlyle’s position in relation to Samir was as a lender and not as an oil supplier since the group never actually owned the oil it claims was stolen.
Therefore, insurance cover for physical loss did not apply, the insurers argued, according to documents.
“As the transactions were financings rather than true sales of the commodities and Carlyle did not take title to the commodities, the loss or losses allegedly suffered by Carlyle was an uninsured credit loss,” the insurers said in a response filed at end-April to the court in New York.
The insurers also allege that Carlyle breached its contract by not notifying the underwriters of payment problems.
“Carlyle has breached its contractual duties … by failing to take any steps to mitigate the alleged loss or losses upon becoming aware that Samir had been processing the commodities,” the counterclaim said.
“To the contrary, Carlyle entered into numerous additional transactions with Samir, thereby exacerbating the size of the alleged loss or losses by hundreds of millions of dollars.”
(This version of the story has been refiled to add dropped word to name of court)
(Additional reporting to Samia Errazzouki in Rabat; Editing by David Evans)