Why the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce is opening its office in Tangier

Jose Maria Teixeira.

The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services of Portugal in Morocco (CCISPM) inaugurates this Wednesday its first regional delegation to the Kingdom, in the city of Tangier. Objectives: support business communities located in the northern region of Morocco in terms of trade and co-investment with Portugal. The choice of Tangier is not fortuitous. The city of Detroit embodies the economic boom of the entire northern area of ​​the Kingdom. And the CCISPM does not want to stay away from this dynamic. It was therefore essential for us to be present to make the advantages and assets of this region even better known. And at the same time, to introduce entrepreneurs in the region to the economic realities of Portugal”, explains José Maria Teixeira, president of the CCISPM, in an interview with “Le Matin”. Mr. Teixeira also discusses trade relations between Morocco and Portugal and the means to strengthen them, as well as the challenges of cooperation between companies from the two countries in French-speaking and Portuguese-speaking Africa.

Le Matin: The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services of Portugal in Morocco inaugurates this Wednesday in Tangier a regional delegation. What is the importance of this event for the economic relations between the two countries?
Jose Maria Teixeira : The CCISPM has existed for 7 years now and has taken over from the Portuguese Business Association in Morocco (AMPA) which was created in 2007. Its purpose is to create bridges between Portuguese and Moroccan entrepreneurs in order to to make them aware of the realities of the two countries and the investment opportunities offered there. The northern region, and in particular the region of Tangier, has developed enormously and we can say that a large part of the companies that are established in Morocco have taken up residence in this region. It was therefore essential for us, at the level of the CCISPM, to be present to make the advantages and assets of this region even more widely known. And at the same time, introduce entrepreneurs in the region to the economic realities of Portugal. We therefore decided to settle in Tangier to promote these exchanges in one direction or the other.

The north of Morocco is booming economically. How does the CCISPM intend to take advantage of this?

Our main objective is to introduce Portuguese entrepreneurs to the assets of the region. Our primary intention is to shed light on the potential of this region and on the means to be implemented so that Portuguese and Moroccan companies cooperate in order to seize the opportunities offered by the region.

Trade relations between Portugal and Morocco have experienced a significant evolution between 2019 and 2021, despite the context of the pandemic. How do you explain that ?

If there is one thing we have learned from this pandemic, it is that although globalization has positive effects for countries and companies, it nevertheless has limits. When supply chains are disrupted, as was the case during the pandemic, other factors favoring neighboring countries come into play. The geographical proximity of Morocco has therefore been decisive in this increase in trade between the two countries recorded in both ways. This increase is also the result of the mobilization and long-term work of the Portuguese Embassy in Rabat. And we ourselves are contributors, at our level, to the development of economic relations between the two countries from year to year.

Apart from economic advantages, what other factors are likely to attract Portuguese investors?

In addition to the excellent relations linking Morocco and Portugal at all levels, Morocco’s political stability remains a major asset in attracting Portuguese investment. Similarly, the development of infrastructure in Morocco and geographical proximity count for a lot. In addition, it must always be taken into account that there are many complementarities between the economies of the two countries.

How many Portuguese companies are established in Morocco and what are their sectors of activity?

We have nearly 180 companies established here in Morocco in all sectors: pharmaceuticals, mechanical industries, services, information technology, construction, logistics and transport, automotive industry, energy, etc. And there are even more companies heading to Morocco.

Are there Moroccan companies established in Portugal? In which sectors do they operate?

Indeed, there are, and more and more. Recently, more and more Moroccan companies want to invest in the Portuguese market in the service sector, energy, and even the health sector and related activities. We take an interested look at this vitality of Moroccan entrepreneurs who, in addition to the particularity of the Portuguese market for them, consider it as a gateway to the European market, but also to the markets of Portuguese-speaking countries.

What do you think is missing to further strengthen trade relations between the two countries?

I think what is lacking today is to carry out information actions on the economic realities of the two countries. Moroccans and Portuguese have a very good knowledge of the tourist potential of each of the two countries. Nevertheless, and in my opinion, there is a knowledge gap in terms of the economic and industrial realities of the two countries. I think that at this level, there is a great job to be done by the Portuguese and Moroccan institutions to make known the exact reality of the two countries. I take part in many sessions to encourage Portuguese entrepreneurs to come to Morocco, and when I explain to them the reality of Morocco today, the surprise is most often there. They don’t know how well developed Morocco is compared to their pre-established ideas. So I think that’s where attention needs to be paid. For the rest, the institutional relations between the two countries are excellent, commensurate with the historical, cultural and civilizational ties that bring us together.

To what extent could setting up in Morocco be beneficial for Portuguese companies wishing to strengthen their presence in sub-Saharan Africa?

Morocco has made a considerable leap in terms of setting up its businesses on sub-Saharan markets, particularly those of French-speaking countries. Personally, I firmly believe in the potential of partnerships between Moroccan and Portuguese companies. This is what I recommend to my fellow entrepreneurs. It goes without saying today that investment in Morocco also opens the door to investment in Africa, particularly French-speaking. Similarly, Moroccan companies investing in Portugal can extend their activities to Portuguese-speaking markets where Portuguese companies are well established and are able to collaborate with their Moroccan counterparts in this regard. The cooperation between the economic actors of the two countries is likely to be deployed beyond the borders of each country to extend to the markets where both Morocco and Portugal have their assets.

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