Tanger Med, near Tangiers, Morocco, is the largest port in the Mediterranean.
When completed in 2014 its capacity will be eight million containers.
Over 300 companies operate in its special development zone, which gives various tax breaks.
The organisers of the Euromed Capital Forum being held in Tangiers say the port is a successful example of the kind of investment it is trying to encourage.
Bertrand Rambaud, of French private equity firm Siparex, the principle sponsor of the conference, discounted fears that such projects mean jobs being lost from Europe:
“The investments lead to additional jobs in that region, not relocation of jobs from Europe, I want to make that clear right at the start. There’s tourism, infrastructure, industry there, and we believe and can demonstrate a GDP growth rate there that us Europeans can only dream of.”
The Euromed Capital Forum highlights the growing interest from private equity groups in such investments.
But in the current economic climate, is this region still too risky and unstable?
Simon Walker, heads the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association:
“I know many of the big private equity houses have been looking at this region because they see good economic growth in countries with buoyant consumer markets. So that has to be an attraction at a time when everyone in London and Paris is feeling very depressed and insular about how our économies are shrinking.”
Jean-Yves Demeunynck is the Managing Director of the French Private Equity Association:
“Private equity investment means one buys the shares of a company and therefore has responsibilities as a shareholder.
We’re feeling the full force of the crisis right now.
It’s normal for some companies to cut back on their activities, but those involved in private equity investment are more confident and better able to see ahead.”
Northern Morocco has had a poor reputation in the past. Illegal immigration, drugs trafficking and, most of all, a not very developed economy.
But things are changing very fast all over the southern shores of the Mediterranean.
Increasing numbers of European business leaders and investors are crossing the Straits of Gibraltar looking for the kind of growth that they can’t find back home.
Morocco is an example of how private equity has been up and working for almost a decade. The industrial platform around the new port of Tangiers is likely to lead to a new industrial and export culture. Over 25 billion euros have been invested so far in developing Northern Morocco.
Tangiers builds the future at Tanger Med