A historic delegation of Moroccan business leaders joined their Israeli counterparts for the inaugural Morocco-Israel Business Forum today at the Tel Aviv Hilton. The conference featured the largest business delegation ever to travel to Israel, and also inaugurated direct flights from Morocco to Israel on Royal Air Maroc, the Moroccan national airline.
Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation Mr. Issawi Frej opened the conference with a warm welcome for his “Morrocan brethren”, pointing out that not only did his own family have Moroccan roots, but between Arabic speakers and Jews of Moroccan heritage, there are strong ties between Israel and Morocco. Speaking in Arabic as well as English, the minister noted that “peace is the only way” and called for increased economic ties and people to people diplomacy to build upon the formal peace of the Abraham Accords.
Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll thanked the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM), Israeli Chamber of Commerce, Morocco-Israel Business Council, Israeli Export Institute, and the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel for organizing the event. Deputy Minister Roll expressed his conviction that the relationship between the two countries would only continue to grow, from trade to tourism, and said that Israel was looking forward to hosting Moroccan Foreign Minister Bourita later in the year.
Mr. Hadar Shor, Director of the Middle East, Africa & India Department at Foreign Trade Administration of the Minister of Economy, noted that the first trade cooperation agreement between Israel and Morocco had been signed just last month. Mr. Shor noted that the business ties would ensure that peace led to economic prosperity and growth, with the Israeli Ministry of Economy estimating that the Israeli-Moroccan volume of trade could quintuple within half a decade, going from 100 million USD to 500 million USD within just five years.
Mr. Alj Chakib, the President of CGEM, talked about the positive business environment created in Morocco under King Mohammad VI, as well as the prominence of Morocco as a gateway to the African economy, as well as its proximity to the European economy, painting a very positive image of the latent economic potential in Morocco in general, and specifically the opportunities for economic cooperation between Israel and Morocco.
Moroccan Ambassador Abderrahim Beyyoud was the final speaker, speaking a few sentences in Hebrew, before delivering his remarks in English. He talked about the importance of the development of Israeli-Moroccan ties, including the first flight of Royal Air Maroc being piloted by two women. The ambassador noted that Morocco represents a point of stability and a strategically key market. Applauding the growth of Moroccan-Israeli ties in just one year, the ambassador credited the Jewish-Moroccan connection as setting the stage for a mutually beneficial relationship, and furthering the path of peace.
Following the opening speeches, two new Memoranda of Understandings were signed by Dr. Ron Tomer, Chairman of the Presidents of Employers and Businesses and President of the Manufacturers Association, and Adv. Uriel Lin, President of the Association of Chambers of Commerce, together with Mr. Chakib Alg, President of CGEM. Promotional videos highlighting the economic potential and investment opportunities in Israel and Morocco further added to the optimistic feeling. The guests then enjoyed two panels highlighting a range of aspects to Moroccan-Israeli business potential, from agrotech to banking to academic cooperation.
After a networking lunch, the Israeli and Moroccan business leaders moved directly to Business to Business meetings. The Moroccan delegation included representatives of some 80 leading Moroccan companies from the automotive and aviation industries, food and beverages, chemical industry products and more.
The Israel Manufacturers Association, the Association of Chambers of Commerce, the Israeli Export Institute, CGEM partnered with the Ministries of Economy and Industry, Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation to organize the conference.
Distinguished guests at the event included Dr. Ron Tomer, Chairman of the Presidents of Employers and Businesses and President of the Israel Manufacturers Association; Adv. Uriel Lin, President of the Association of Chambers of Commerce, Morocco-Israel Business Council head Mr. Steve Ohana; Ayelet Nachmias - Verbin, Chairman of the Export Institute; Ohad Cohen, Director of the Foreign Trade Administration; Sabine Segal & Alain Mendoza from the Israel Export Institute; Henrique Cymerman & Dr. Nirit Ofir from the Israel Gulf Cooperation Council Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Gabriel Traub & Hadar Shor from the Ministry of Economy & Industry; Dan Catarivas, Director General – Foreign Trade and International Relations at the Manufacturers Association of Israel; Zeev Lavie from Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce; David Kenan President of the Marrakesh Federation; Gabriel Hayon Chairman of the Diplomat Institute; Matias Schapiro, President of the Chamber of Commerce Israel-Spain, and Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan, President of the Ambassador’s Club; Brigadier General Avraham "Avi" Benayahu, former Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson .