At the confluence of Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East, Morocco seeks to transform itself into a regional business hub by leveraging its geographically strategic location, political stability, and world-class infrastructure to expand as a regional manufacturing and export base for international companies. Morocco actively encourages and facilitates foreign investment, particularly in export sectors like manufacturing, through positive macro-economic policies, trade liberalization, investment incentives, and structural reforms. The Government of Morocco implements strategies aimed at boosting employment, attracting foreign investment, and raising performance and output in key revenue-earning sectors, with an emphasis placed on value-added industries such as renewables, automotive, aerospace, textile, pharmaceuticals, outsourcing, and agro-food. Most of the government’s strategies are laid out in the released in April of 2021. As part of the Government’s development plan, Morocco continues to make major investments in renewable energy, is on track to meet its stated goal of 64 percent total installed capacity by 2030, and announced an even more ambitious goal of 80 percent by 2050.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) , Morocco attracted the ninth-most foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa in 2020. Peaking in 2018 when Morocco attracted $3.6 billion in FDI, inbound FDI dropped by 55 percent to $1.7 billion in 2019 and remained largely unchanged at $1.7 billion in 2020. UAE, France, and Spain hold a majority of FDI stocks. Manufacturing attracted the highest share of FDI stocks, followed by real estate, trade, tourism, and transportation. Morocco continues to orient itself as the “gateway to Africa,” and expanded on this role with its return to the African Union in January 2017 and the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) which entered into force in 2021. In June 2019, Morocco opened an extension of the Tangier-Med commercial shipping port, making it the largest in Africa and the Mediterranean; the government is developing a third phase for the port which will increase capacity to five million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). Tangier is connected to Morocco’s political capital in Rabat and commercial hub in Casablanca by Africa’s first high-speed train service. But weak intellectual property rights protections, inefficient government bureaucracy, corruption, inadequate money laundering safeguards and the slow pace of regulatory reform remain challenges. In 2021, Morocco was placed on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “grey list” of countries subjected to increased monitoring due to deficiencies int the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
Morocco has ratified 72 investment treaties for the promotion and protection of investments and 62 economic agreements, including with the United States and most EU nations, that aim to eliminate the double taxation of income or gains. Morocco is the only country on the African continent with a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, eliminating tariffs on more than 95 percent of qualifying consumer and industrial goods. The Government of Morocco plans to phase out tariffs for some products through 2030. The FTA supports Morocco’s goals to develop as a regional financial and trade hub, providing opportunities for the localization of services and the finishing and re-export of goods to markets in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Since the U.S.-Morocco FTA came into effect bilateral trade in goods has grown nearly five-fold. The U.S. and Moroccan governments work closely to increase trade and investment through high-level consultations, bilateral dialogue, and other forums to inform U.S. businesses of investment opportunities and strengthen business-to-business ties.
|TI Corruption Perception Index||2021||87 of 180||http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview|
|Global Innovation Index||2021||77 of 132||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions)||2020||$457||https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/|
|World Bank GNI per capita||2020||$3,020||https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD|
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
3. Legal Regime
4. Industrial Policies
5. Protection of Property Rights
6. Financial Sector
8. Responsible Business Conduct
Responsible business conduct (RBC) has gained strength in the broader business community in tandem with Morocco’s economic expansion and stability. The Moroccan government does not have any regulations requiring companies to practice RBC nor does it give any preference to such companies. However, companies generally inform Moroccan authorities of their planned RBC involvement. Morocco joined the UN Global Compact network in 2006 and in 2022 counts 24 private company as signatories, including the Confederation General des Entreprises du Maroc (CGEM), Morocco’s largest private sector lobbying group that represents more than 90,000 private companies. The Compact provides support to companies that affirm their commitment to social responsibility. While there is no legislation mandating specific levels of RBC, foreign firms and some local enterprises follow generally accepted principles, such as the OECD RBC guidelines for multinational companies. NGOs and Morocco’s active civil society are also taking an increasingly active role in monitoring corporations’ RBC performance. In 2017 a non-governmental National Observatory for RBC (ORSEM) was created with the objective of promoting responsible business practices, and in 2021, in collaboration with AtlantaSanad Assurance, a Moroccan insurance company, published its first corporate social responsibility guide. Morocco does not currently participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) or the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, though it has held some consultations aimed at eventually joining EITI. No domestic transparency measures exist that require disclosure of payments made to governments. There have not been any cases of high-profile instances of private sector impact on human rights in the recent past. Morocco is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, and Post is unaware of any private military companies operating in the country.
Department of State
- Country Reports on Human Rights Practices;
- Trafficking in Persons Report;
- Guidance on Implementing the “UN Guiding Principles” for Transactions Linked to Foreign Government End-Users for Products or Services with Surveillance Capabilities;
- U.S. National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; and;
- Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory
Department of the Treasury
Department of Labor
In February 2021, Morocco was placed on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) “grey list” of countries of concern regarding money laundering and terrorist financing. Following the grey list designation, Morocco made a high-level commitment to work with the FATF and Middle East and North Africa FATF to strengthen the effectiveness of its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating Financing of Terrorism (CFT) regime. Morocco has taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, including passing new AML legislation, but significant challenges remain.
In Transparency International’s , Morocco’s score dropped by one point causing its ranking to fall one additional position to 87th out of 180 countries. According to the State Department’s , Moroccan law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government generally did not implement the law effectively. Officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. There were reports of government corruption in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches during the year.
According to the Global Corruption Barometer Africa 2019 report published in July 2019, 53 percent of Moroccans surveyed think corruption increased in the previous 12 months, 31 percent of public services users paid a bribe in the previous 12 months, and 74 percent believe the government is doing a bad job in tackling corruption.
The 2011 constitution mandated the creation of a national anti-corruption entity. Morocco formally established the National Authority for Probity, Prevention, and Fighting Corruption (INPLCC) but it did not become operational until 2018 when its board was appointed by the king. The INPLCC is tasked with initiating, coordinating, and overseeing the implementation of policies for the prevention and fight against corruption, as well as gathering and disseminating information on the issue. In 2021 parliment passed Law No 19-46 to strengthen INPPLC’s effectiveness in its fight against corruption, creating an integrated framework aimed at improving cooperation and coordination, criminalizing corruption, and improving prevention efforts. Additionally, Morocco’s anti-corruption efforts include enhancing the transparency of public tenders and implementation of a requirement that senior government officials submit financial disclosure statements at the start and end of their government service, although their family members are not required to make such disclosures. Few public officials submitted such disclosures, and there are no effective penalties for failing to comply. Morocco does not have conflict of interest legislation. In 2018, thanks to the passage of an Access to Information (AI) law, Morocco joined the Open Government Partnership, a multilateral effort to make governments more transparent. As part of its 2021-2023 Open Government National Action Plan, Morocco launched a , to share its various commitments and allow its citizens to monitor progress and submit their suggestions and concerns. Although the Moroccan government does not require that private companies establish internal codes of conduct, the Moroccan Institute of Directors (IMA) was established in June 2009 with the goal of bringing together individuals, companies, and institutions willing to promote corporate governance and conduct. IMA published the four Moroccan Codes of Good Corporate Governance Practices. Some private companies use internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials. Morocco signed the UN Convention against Corruption in 2007 and hosted the States Parties to the Convention’s Fourth Session in 2011. However, Morocco does not provide any formal protections to NGOs involved in investigating corruption. For more information on corruption issues, please view the . Although the U.S. Mission is not aware of cases involving corruption regarding customs or taxation issues, American businesses report encountering unexpected delays and requests for documentation that is not required under the FTA or standardized shipping norms.
Resources to Report Corruption
National Authority for Probity, Prevention, and Fighting Corruption (INPPLC)
Avenue Annakhil, Immeuble High Tech, Hall B, 3eme etage, Hay Ryad-Rabat
+212-5 37 57 86 60
10. Political and Security Environment
Morocco enjoys political stability. There has not been any recent damage to commercial facilities and/or installations with a continued impact on the investment environment. Demonstrations occur in Morocco and usually center on economic, social, or labor issues. Demonstrations can attract hundreds to thousands of people in major city centers. Participants are typically, but not always, non-violent and the demonstrations are peaceful and orderly.
Morocco has historically experienced terrorist attacks. Travelers should generally exercise increased caution due to terrorism as terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Morocco. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Visitors are encouraged to consult the Department of State’s Morocco Travel Advisory for the most current information.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
In the Moroccan labor market, many Moroccan university graduates cannot find jobs commensurate with their education and training, and employers report insufficient skilled candidates. The educational system does not prioritize STEM literacy and industrial skills and many graduates are unprepared to meet contemporary job market demands. In 2011, the Moroccan government restructured its employment promotion agency, the National Agency for Promotion of Employment and Skills (ANAPEC), to assist new university graduates prepare for and find work in the private sector that requires specialized skills. The government also is pursuing a strategy to increase the number of students in vocational and professional training programs. The Bureau of Professional Training and Job Promotion (OFPPT), Morocco’s main public provider for professional training, has made several large-scale investments to address the country’s skills gap, counting more than 390 training centers with a capacity to attend 500,000 individuals annually. According to official government figures, unemployment stood at slightly above pre-pandemic levels at 11.8 percent in early 2022, with youth (ages 15-24) unemployment spiking at over 26 percent in 2020. The female labor participation rate remains extremely low at 21.6 percent, ranking 180 out of 189 countries surveyed in a 2018 World Bank survey. Of the female population in the work force, unemployment remains higher than average at 13.2 percent. The World Bank and other international institutions estimate that actual unemployment – and underemployment – rates may be higher. According to a study by Morocco’s central bank, Morocco made considerable progress incorporating its informal economy, which now hovers slightly below 30 percent of GDP. In 2021 newly elected Head of Government Aziz Akhannouch announced an aggressive plan to create 1 million jobs in the private and public sector over his government’s five-year mandate, which in part will be accomplished by increasing government positions, encouraging growth and hiring in the private sector, and further legitimizing Morocco’s informal sector.
Pursuing a forward-leaning migration policy, the Moroccan government has regularized the status of over 50,000 sub-Saharans migrants since 2014. Regularization provides these migrants with legal access to employment, employment services, and education and vocation training. The majority of sub-Saharan migrants who benefitted from the regularization program work in call centers and education institutes, if they have strong French or English skills, or domestic work and construction.
Under Moroccan Labor Code, Law Number 65-99, there are two types of employment contracts: fixed-term and permanent. Under a fixed-term labor contract, the duration of employment ends on a defined date and early termination initiated by the employer will result in damages equivalent to the amount of corresponding wages for the remainder of the contract. A permanent employment contract can be terminated at any time through the implementation of a well-defined dismissal procedure. The law prohibits the dismissal of an employee without a valid reason and failure to follow these very strict procedure would likely result in the Labor Court ruling the dismissal to be unfair and result in damages being awarded to the dismissed employee. In the case of economic or structural layoffs, the employer must notify the employee’s union presentative and seek permission from the provincial governor prior to conducting any layoffs. In the case of dismissal for misconduct, the bar of proving gross misconduct is typically high and it is common for labor courts to rule in the favor of the dismissed employee – even those who commit a blatant act of gross misconduct – if the employer does not follow the dismissal procedure properly.
Dismissals deemed as unfair carry heavy financial penalties to employers. In the case of a dismissal determined to be unfair of an employee who has worked six months or more in the same company, the Labor Code dictates the employer must compensate the dismissed employee including pay-in-lieu of notice, indemnity, damages, and other miscellaneous costs. These costs balloon as the seniority and base salary of the dismissed employee increases. Cases where employers and employees go to court are rare, as both sides typically opt for an amicable resolution settled out of court which allows employers to negotiate reduced compensation payments and quicker payouts to the employee. Businesses have the added incentive to settle outside of court since Labor Courts have a reputation of siding with the employee on wrongful dismissal lawsuits. Labor law is applicable in all sectors of employment; there are no specific labor laws to foreign trade zones or other sectors. More information is available from the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Economic Diplomacy unit.
Morocco has roughly 20 collective bargaining agreements in the following sectors: Telecommunications, automotive industry, refining industry, road transport, fish canning industry, aircraft cable factories, collection of domestic waste, ceramics, naval construction and repair, paper industry, communication and information technology, land transport, and banks. The sectoral agreements that exist to date are in the banking, energy, printing, chemicals, ports, and agricultural sectors.
According to the State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices, the Moroccan constitution grants workers the right to form and join unions, strike, and bargain collectively, with some restrictions (S 396-429 Labor Code Act 1999, 65-99). The law prohibits certain categories of government employees, including members of the armed forces, police, and some members of the judiciary, from forming or joining unions and from conducting strikes. The law allows several independent unions to exist but requires 35 percent of the total employee base to be associated with a union for the union to be representative and engage in collective bargaining. The government generally respected freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Employers limited the scope of collective bargaining, frequently setting wages unilaterally for the majority of unionized and nonunionized workers. Domestic NGOs reported that employers often used temporary contracts to discourage employees from affiliating with or organizing unions. Legally, unions can negotiate with the government on national-level labor issues.
Labor disputes (S 549-581 Labor Code Act 1999, 65-99) are common, and in some cases result in employers failing to implement collective bargaining agreements and withholding wages. Trade unions complain that the government sometimes uses Article 288 of the penal code to prosecute workers for striking and to suppress strikes. Labor inspectors are tasked with mediation of labor disputes. In general, strikes occur in heavily unionized sectors such as education and government services, and such strikes can lead to disruptions in government services but usually remain peaceful.
In response to the widespread difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Morocco’s Special Commission for the Development Model presented King Mohammed VI the in May 2021. This model will serve as a roadmap for Moroccan development with a special focus on decreasing poverty, improving social services and expanding social security protections.
Chapter 16 of the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA) addresses labor issues and commits both parties to respecting international labor standards.