MGR: Morocco and the United States maintain a traditionally close relationship dating back to 1786 when the Peace and Friendship Treaty was signed. How would you describe the current relationship between the two countries?
AmbFischer: The relationship between the United States and Morocco is the strongest it has ever been, and we are making it stronger every day. Our Embassy consults closely with the Government of Morocco on a range of issues of common interest, including regional security, foreign policy, economics, and sustainable development. Morocco is a critical partner in counterterrorism efforts, a major non-NATO ally, and a pivotal player in the issues confronting the broader Middle East and North Africa region today.
Morocco is also the only country in Africa with which we have a Free Trade Agreement and 2021 marks 15 years since that agreement went into effect. Next year will also mark the 200th anniversary of the American Legation at Tangier, the oldest U.S. diplomatic property in the world and the first location outside of the United States to ever be designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
We will be marking this important anniversary with a year-long campaign in 2021, celebrating over two centuries of friendship and cooperation between our two countries.
MGR: Africa will almost double its population by 2050 and significantly increase its economic output, thus becoming a prime FDI receiver. (a) How important is Africa for US foreign economic policy? (b) As the gateway to Africa, how significant is Morocco to this transcontinental trade and investment?
AmbFischer: U.S. foreign policy is predicated on a robust economic strategy which underscores our long-standing commitment to Africa and to moving African countries away from foreign assistance, toward self-reliance and sustainable financial independence.
Recognizing the enormous economic potential on the continent, the Administration has made the expansion of trade and investment in Africa a key priority for the United States.
By 2025, we expect that nearly two-thirds of the estimated 300 million African households will have discretionary income, which makes this a key market for globally competitive American companies.
Since our Free Trade Agreement entered into force in 2006, overall trade balance between the United States and Morocco has increased by nearly 500 percent and overall Moroccan exports to the United States have more than tripled. Since 2017, American direct investment in Morocco increased by 151 percent, making the United States the second largest investor in Morocco. This investment accounts for over 100,000 Moroccan jobs.
Our economic relationship with Africa is critically important, and we appreciate Morocco’s role as a regional leader, especially in the economic realm. Our free trade agreement 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.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation partners with countries who prioritize good governance, economic freedom and investing in their citizens. Since its founding in 2004, MCC has invested more than $9 billion with 23 partner countries in Africa. Morocco, as the largest beneficiary of MCC funds to date, has been a key MCC partner since 2006. MCC and the Moroccan government are currently partnering to implement a $450 million compact to address two major constraints to economic growth in Morocco—employability and land productivity, which are also key concerns and priorities of Moroccan citizens.
USAID is planning to invest $100 million over the next five years in close collaboration with the Government of Morocco to support participatory local governance, enhanced economic growth, improved education outcomes, and community resilience.
American investment in Morocco continues to flourish, particularly in the automotive and aerospace industry.
Morocco has 56 free trade agreements with 81 different countries throughout Europe, Africa, and the Gulf states. For American companies, Morocco is truly the gateway to both Africa and Europe.
The U.S.-Moroccan relationship is strong and is only getting stronger. Our Treaty of Friendship is the longest active treaty in U.S. history, and our partnership on security and economic growth continues to grow.
MGR: For the last 6 months, the Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the globe with millions of cases and thousands of deaths. How would you describe Morocco’s response to the pandemic so far?
AmbFischer: We are working closely with Morocco to confront the Covid-19 pandemic. Morocco has played a key leadership role on critically important public health efforts in Africa. At home, under King Mohammed VI, the government moved swiftly to set up field hospitals and enroll the assistance of private clinics to expand the reach of Covid-19 testing. We are also extremely grateful to the Moroccan government for its assistance in organizing the repatriation of 2,700 U.S. citizens on 16 flights early on during the pandemic.
The United States government has partnered with the Kingdom of Morocco to invest more than $10 million in Morocco’s Covid-19 response. This assistance has helped prepare laboratory systems, improve Covid-19 case detection and surveillance, and support technical experts, among other areas.
MGR: As the Ambassador of the USA in Morocco, what is your final message to our readers in the US and worldwide?
AmbFischer: Again, the U.S.-Moroccan relationship is strong and is only getting stronger. Our Treaty of Friendship is the longest active treaty in U.S. history, and our partnership on security and economic growth continues to grow.
In the coming year, we look forward to working with our Moroccan partners in hosting Operation “Africa Lion,” the largest military exercise on the African continent.
While our government-to-government connections are important, I believe it is the vitality of our people-to-people connections – ranging from sister-city friendships to student exchanges to civil society collaborations – that sustain our enduring partnership. We look forward to a year-long cultural exchange program centered on celebrating the two-hundred-year anniversary of the American Legation in Tangier.
Today our close and abiding relationship continues on the basis of our shared interests and shared values. We are partners striving for the advancement of regional cooperation and security, for continued economic growth and prosperity, for sustainable development of the countries across the continent, and for stronger connections between our institutions and our people. We are proud to note that on all these fronts — and for many other common objectives — Morocco and the United States share a resolute commitment to work in partnership.