Associated Press
By Paul Schemm

FORD

Ford Motor Company is expanding its presence in North Africa with a new Moroccan sales office and plans to double the amount of car parts purchased in the country, it announced Tuesday.

The expansion is the latest boost to the country’s automotive industry, which has grown substantially in the last few years with investments by foreign companies like Renault.

“Ford sees Morocco has a country that has skilled labor and extremely good infrastructure,” said Ford Middle East and North Africa director Kalyana Sivaganam. “We see a lot of growth in the automotive industry, we see good developing infrastructure for parts.”

Ford is expanding its factory in Valencia, Spain, and will double the amount of wiring, steering wheels and seat covers purchased from Moroccan suppliers, he added.

In addition to car parts, Morocco makes more than 200,000 automobiles a year, mainly from a Renault plant in Tangiers built in 2013.

Long a predominantly agriculture country with major exports in phosphates, Morocco has been developing its industry over the past few years.

There are now some 80,000 jobs in the automotive sector, nearly 10 percent of all industry employment.

Most cars are exported and made up more than 20 percent of all exports in the first four months of 2015, a 12 percent increase from the same period in 2014. In 2014, Morocco exported $4 billion worth of cars.

Imed Lahlou, an economic analyst with the National Insitute of Statistics, said Morocco has been attracting regional industrial investment due to a low cost skilled work force, political stability and its geographic location.

“Morocco has become an important gate to African countries due to its political relationship with countries like Senegal, Ivory Coast and Cameroon,” he said. “Morocco is also on the straits of Gibraltar and a gateway between Africa, southern Europe and the North Atlantic in general.”