Report: Special Economic Zones
Media: Lufthansa Inflight Magazine
Sector: Trade & Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
Publication Date: September 2016
Tanger Med Zones
Gateway to Global Markets
Morocco’s Tanger Med Zones have quietly emerged as a manufacturing and distribution hub for international companies.
Attracting an investment of US$ 1 billion from car manufacturer Renault-Nissan, which has set up the largest car plant in Africa, is one of the biggest success stories of Morocco’s Tanger Med Zones. The free zone, developed over an area of 12 million square metres and fully integrated with the Tanger-Med port, has built up a first-class automotive cluster, but it is also marketing itself as an attractive investment destination for a number of other sectors. A total of 590 companies, active in industries such as aeronautics, electronics, textiles, agri-food, logistics and, of course, automotive, have established operations in Tanger Med. “We have long had a focus on the automotive industry but diversification and attracting companies from new sectors has always been one of our goals,” says Jaafar Mrhardy, Managing Director of Tanger Med Zones.
Located strategically on the Strait of Gibraltar, at the conjunction of major maritime routes, the Moroccan zone offers access to a host of target markets through the Tanger Med Port, a global transshipment gateway with 8 million TEU container handling capacity, offering connections to some 170 ports worldwide. These strong fundamentals, coupled with political stability in an otherwise unstable region and a set of financial incentives, have enabled Tanger Med to meet the expectations of global players and attract international companies originating from China, Europe, Japan, India and the US. Besides Renault-Nissan, Siemens, Everis, Arcelor-Mittal, General Electric, Ford, Delphi, Lear Corporation, Sumitomo, Dl Aero, Grupo Antolin, and Yazaki are using Tanger Med Zones as their base to export to global markets.
Mrhardy admits that attracting international investors is a challenge for all free zones. “To address this challenge, we had to design an attractive financial regime, in addition to offering other support services,” he says. For instance, companies operating in the free zone are exempt from corporation tax and VAT. “We assist and guide investors not only at investment stage but also once they are operational.” To offer investors first-class transport links, the Tangier-Tetouan region has invested heavily in infrastructure in the past five years. A programme of road repairs and upgrades has been put in place, while the government is building a high-speed train link from Casablanca to Tangier. “Those investments make the region of Tangier-Tetouan a hotspot for international investors and business people,” says Mrhardy.
As a dynamic commercial location, the Tanger Med Zones are not afraid of change. “The world economy has developed dramatically in recent years. In particular, the emergence of the digital economy has been a game changer; and trading and investing have had to rapidly evolve alongside it. The challenge is to ensure that our regulatory structure keeps up with this development,” says Mrhardy. He is also keen to create new revenue streams. “We have already identified renewable energies as a future growth area. Morocco always had a keen interest in this sector. We have wind turbines all over the north coast, as well as a solar plant that is set to become the world’s largest once it is fully operational.” Within this scenario, the Tanger Med Zones position themselves as key partner for international companies. “Our ultimate aim is to create more high value jobs for the region,” says Mrhardy.