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Marrakesh Air show, Aeroexpo, reveals Morocco's Ambitions

Posted by Arab Defense Industry on Friday, July 2, 2010

On the tarmac of the Marrakesh, Morocco international airport and on the stands, are exposed many aircraft and helicopters, civil and military (Hercules C130, F16 U.S., business jets, regional aircraft last ATR ...). In the air, the Green March, the Moroccan Air patrol is operating a low altitude refueling demonstration that is delighting the audience.

The second edition of the Marrakech air show, Aeroexpo, which is held from January 27 to the 30th, has substantially grown. About 300 exhibitors are present, and 40,000 visitors are expected. "In two years, the activity has almost doubled. Twenty foreign ministerial delegations are attending and they are followed by their countries respective civilian aviation delegations "said the show’s Commissioner Frederic Le Henaff.

In recent years, Morocco has emerged as an industrial subcontracting base for larger European space & aeronautics contractors. Today the sector employs 7,000 workers at 90 companies and has achieved an export volume of 700 million Euros. Accustomed to a growth of around 25% per year since the early 2000s. In 2009, growth fell to 10% and should be zero in 2010 due to the world aviation crisis.

Morocco has accelerated its efforts to attract additional European companies. "The aircraft industry has been identified as one of seven key industrial priority for Morocco. “We want to be for Europe what Mexico to the United States" said Ahmed Reda Chami, Moroccan industry & commerce Minister.

Besides the geographical and cultural proximity, the country offers a strong competitiveness in costs reduction. The Moroccan equivalent of the minimum wage is 170 euros per month for working 42 hours per week!

Morocco also promises European industrialists a 50% reduction in labor costs if they settle on this side of the Atlantic. The country puts forward additional incentives to attract new companies: total exemption from corporate tax for 5 years, partly taking in charge personnel technical training costs, development or expansion of new special aeronautic industrial areas like Nouasseur, near the Casablanca international airport. "We want to create 15 000 additional jobs in the aviation sector and generate 360 million Euros of GDP in the period 2009-2015,” said a government official.

French industrialists are among the most active in Morocco. The French stand at the air show, along with the American stand, are the largest.

The subsidiary of Safran, Aircelle is showcasing in its stand a thrust reverser assembly from its local plant. EADS Sogerma is exposing its latest 1st class passengers seat that is partly made in its Casablanca factory... "About 38 companies are part of our exhibitors roster,” said a representative of Gifas, the industrial group of aeronautics and space that is organizing the air show.

Over time, large contractors have attracted their own sub-contractors. Among them, Bouyausare, , which manufactures precision mechanical parts. It has operated in Morocco since 2004. In 2008, it opened its own factory in Tangier, which will soon have fifty people. “This allows us to make between 15 and 30% in cost savings "says Marc Moreuil, CEO of the company. The 250 employees company has invested 2 million Euros in its new factory of 3600 m2, it has received financial aid from the Moroccan Government development Fund, the Hassan II fund, that is equivalent to about 10% of total costs that are mostly related to acquisition of land and buildings.

"Ultimately, this investment in Morocco is helping us win new customers and new markets. About 15% of the output of our new plant will be to supply our customers, here, in the Maghreb. "

Other companies are tempted to settle in Morocco, like Uni Air, a company that is active in business jets maintenance in France. "It might make sense to develop a workshop in Morocco. This will bring additional capacity in case of saturation in our facilities in Toulouse and Le Bourget and secondly, it would allow our customers from Africa to be serviced on the spot, "said a Uni Air executive. But the company is still hesitant because of amount of investment required to expand its business in Morocco, in addition to supplemental shipping costs of spare parts from its headquarters in France.

With the crisis in the aviation industry, companies have become more cautious about developing new activities on this side of the Mediterranean. However, Morocco has understood that putting up an air show like this one may help lift some corporate doubts or hesitations.

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