160 national and international businesses to join Tanger-Med Free Zones
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 12/26/2004 | 5:30 pm
About 160 national and international businesses requested to join Tanger-Med Export Free Zones, said a communiqué recently issued by TMSA, an entity in charge of the Tanger-Med Port expected to be ready by 2007.
These businesses, mainly specialized in exports, will eventually create 21,860 jobs, added the release.
The same source revealed that tourism, textile, food production, and electronics are among the most needed sectors in the region, adding that Spanish investors give more importance to ready-made clothes.
Said El Hadi, director general of TMSA, said that vocational training will be programmed soon, which should make it possible for people of the region to benefit from the enormous employment opportunities included in the project.
This project targets a proximity market of over 600 million consumers, including Western Europe, Western Africa, North Africa and North America. By 2020, Tanger-Med is expected to reach a container traffic of 3 million TEU, and employ 145,000 people.
The port's particular position on the Straits of Gibraltar, at the crossing of two major maritime routes, and 15km from the European Union, will enable it to serve a market of hundreds of millions of consumers through the industrial and commercial Free Zones which will be run by well-known private operators.
It will also win part of the strong growth market of container transhipment and become the leading hub for cereal transhipment, a brand-new facility in the north-west African region.
The port complex will have considerable economic impacts in terms of job opportunities, added value creation and foreign investment. In addition, the construction of the port will yield significant results, particularly through foreign investments and the free zones operations (direct and indirect added value, direct gains, jobs and foreign investment).
The project as a whole requires total investment estimated at MAD 11 billion (US $1 billion), divided as follows:
Construction and equipment of the new port (MAD 4 300 million / US $ 390 million), Installation of facilities in the free zones (MAD 2 300 million / US $ 210 million), Connection infrastructure (MAD 3 400 million / US $310 million /), Off-site work -water, electricity, telephone- (MAD 1 000 million / US $90 million).
In June 2003, Bouygues of France won an estimated contract of MAD 2.42 billion for the building of the Mediterranean harbor. Originally planed for the Atlantic coast, 20 km south of Tangier, it was eventually re-sited halfway between Tangier and Tetouan, the two major northern cities.
On September 14, 2004, the government signed in Rabat an agreement with the Islamic Bank of Development for a loan of $65 million that will finance part of this railroad link.
The MAD 11 billion project is of great proportions: a logistic free zone of 90 hectares, an industrial zone of 600 hectares (20 km away from the port), a commercial duty-free zone of 200 hectares (15 km away from the port) and tourism facilities in Fnideq.
The Hassan II Fund for Development will provide MAD 2 billion of the 11 billion budgeted. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development will offer a US $100 million grant and a US $ 200 million credit, while private investors will underwrite the rest. Many benefits are expected from such a project, and the region's residents have high hopes it will result in the creation of new jobs.
The economic conditions of the north are challenging: many people work in the parallel market; infrastructure is not very well developed and the unemployment rate is high, compared with the rest of the nation. Government estimations expect Tanger-Med to create 145,000 jobs in the long run, 12,000 of which will be directly involved in the operation of the port.
Fnideq, and the northern region in general, is notorious for being a market for all sorts of smuggled products from the occupied enclave of Ceuta. This traffic has a negative impact on the Moroccan economy be it in unpaid taxes or in the low quality of the goods imported. The choice of establishing a duty-free zone in Fnideq is highly important and authorities hope it will help bring the informal economy back into the legal sector.