The city’s free zone, which is Morocco’s largest, is home to over 450 export-oriented enterprises. Their main fields of work are auto parts and aerospace.
Tangier – The Tangier Free Zone, Morocco’s largest free zone, wants to lure Brazilian companies so they will set up operations there. The facility is home to over 450 export-oriented companies, 80% of which are in the auto industry.
“We are open to investment. We have received several Brazilian delegations lately, especially from the auto and aerospace industries, and they had heard about the Tanger-Med (the city’s port, 14 kilometres away from Europe),” said Ilhan Khalil, who is in charge of Commercial Development at the free zone, to a group of Brazilian journalists visiting the site last week. When asked whether she had met with Embraer executives, she said “we have seen them many times.”
Established in 1999, The Tangier Free Zone covers a 350-hectare area, which saw EUR 1.5 billion worth of investment from companies which have set up operations there. Presently, the main company is the French automaker Renault, whose plant puts out 150,000 cars a year, but whose actual production capacity is 400,000 units a year.
In order to operate at the Tangier free zone, a company is required to export 70% of its output. According to Khalil, in 2013, the free zone companies earned a combined EUR 1.5 billion in export revenues.
For companies willing to become involved, the free zone offers services ranging from construction to project management. “We offer the platform for companies who wish to manufacture and export their products,” said Mehdi Tazi-Riffi, the managing director of the Tangier Free Zone. The management’s goal is to increase the total area to 500 hectares.
According to him, incentives are also offered during the construction phase, such as direct subsidies for the plant and equipment, as well as incentives for the operating phase. After auto parts, the most important industry at the Tangier free zone is aerospace, but electronics, foodstuffs, textiles, and services companies are also present.
For the first five years, free zone companies enjoy tax exemption, following which they pay 8.75% for the next 30 years. “Most of the companies who have come to Morocco have expanded, building new plants,” said Riffi. According to the director, exports from Tangier Free Zone companies should amount to EUR 2 billion this year.
Exports to Brazil
Operating at the Tangier Free Zone since 2011, the French-based Snop makes metal sheet stamping for automobiles. The company’s entire output is purchased by Renault, in Morocco and worldwide, including Brazil, which buys 15% of the Moroccan plant’s 25-million-a-year output.
“We have come not only for the cheap labour, but also because the [Tangier] port is open to international trade. The country offers industrial platforms and we are standing on one of them,” said Tajeddine Bennis, the director of Snop’s Tangier plant. Both the free zone and the city’s port are managed by the same company, Tanger Med.
Besides Brazil, the Moroccan chapter of Snop exports to Argentina, Colombia, Russia and Turkey. Its plant covers a 15,000 square-metre area, but the company is in talks for a project with Ford. If it comes to fruition, then the plant will be expanded by another 20,000 square metres.
One of the first plants inaugurated at the Tangier free zone, Polydesign, makes parts for the insides of cars, such as seats and gearbox protectors, among several other items. The company started operating in Morocco in 2001, and currently its plant spans 16,000 square metres, and employs 764 people.
The plant’s customers include major automakers like Nissan, Saab, Land Rover, BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Peugeot and Ford. According to Azzeddine Tika, the assistant general manager, the Moroccan plant grosses EUR 30 million per year and the entire production is shipped abroad, mostly to Europe, China and the United States.