The primary point of entry for foreign manufactured goods for direct distribution to the
public, wholesalers, distributors, or retailers is Casablanca. However, ferry service
between Morocco and Spain and France does allow for goods to be imported and
exported by truck over land and water.
Product Pricing Structures
The average sales margin for wholesalers varies from 5% to 10 %, for retailers it is 25%
depending on the product. For luxury products it is 30% and for high turnover products
such as food products, it is 15%.
Use of Agents/ Distributors;
Finding a Partner
Foreign manufacturers and exporters are represented in the market either through their
own branch offices or through authorized agents/ distributors. Distributors customarily
provide technical support to end-users and often have contractual arrangements with their
principals under which the local importers provide in-bond warehousing.
Agents/ distributors are often necessary to assist the foreign firm with documentation in the
French language. Although this helps in terms of language and shipping,
often the products go through so many more distribution channels that the item ceases to
be competitive in the Moroccan market. As always, volume is the key. Large-scale
stores based on the "Costco" model are a relatively new phenomenon, and a good source
for direct distribution of consumer products.
Marketing services and advertising agencies are increasingly focusing on direct
marketing in response to saturation in the traditional media. Common forms in Morocco
are point-of-sale promotions, games, moving billboards, direct mail and door-to-door.
Avon and Oriflame are active in door-to-door cosmetic sales.
Joint Ventures/ Licensing
Moroccans are increasingly interested in joint venture business opportunities with
foreign partners as a way to modernize their factories or license a technology.
Steps to Establishing an Office
Stock companies must file their articles of association, signed by all shareholders, with
the local trade registration office (Registre Local du Commerce). An announcement of
the company's formation is then published in a newspaper of legal announcements. The
company must subsequently file with the registration office of the local court a
registration request and declaration containing information on the company's activities,
its address, the names of managers and directors and the amount of paid-in capital. These
documents should be filed in Arabic, but the courts also accept French. A company may
not begin business operations until it obtains a registration number, and the process takes
about six weeks after filing required documents.
Limited Liability Companies must first register
their signed articles of association with the trade register and then file the
articles with the registration office of the local court. After the articles of
association are filed at the local court, announcement of the formation is
published in a newspaper of legal announcements. The limited company then files
with the trade register a request for a company registration number.
It is recommended to use an accounting or law firm to prepare the registration documents
because of the language requirements.
It is possible for a foreign investor to establish a wholly-owned company in Morocco
without the need for a local partner.
Selling Factors/ Techniques
Most local distributors of imported merchandise expect their suppliers to provide them
with substantial advertising and promotional support, particularly when introducing a
new product or brand name. All sales promotional material and technical documentation
should be in French. Clear and simple French-language operating instructions, plus,
where possible, illustrations help the consumers, not to mention the sales
firms often need to train local staff, provide full documentation of products in French,
supply spare parts in adequate supplies and cooperate in advertising and marketing.
Direct mail is becoming very popular.
Commodity prices are freely determined by the market without government involvement
with the exception of staple commodities such as gasoline, vegetable oil, sugar and
subsidized flour. On October 5, 1998, Morocco implemented a new tariff system for
major staple commodities -grains, oilseeds and products, and sugar. The new system
computes duties in a way that avoids wide fluctuations. This has resulted in more stable
local prices of the imported commodities, but also significantly higher duties on the low
Sales Service/ Customer Support
It is important that the foreign firm supply their local
distributor with customer and internal manuals and documentation in French. Training by headquarters representatives of management, sales and
service personnel is important and can do much to support the relationship and build
product loyalty. After-sales service and product guarantees are extremely important, as
are simple maintenance and care instructions for the consumer. As products improve in
quality and customers become increasingly price conscious, emphasis on simple care and
maintenance are critical techniques in illustrating the longevity of products properly
Selling to the Government
Selling to the Government is handled principally through government tenders and on rare
occasions through mutual agreement or private contract. In the latter case, the
government applies directly to firms, which have been traditional suppliers through their
representatives in Morocco. Tenders are published in newspapers and announcements
are sent to Embassies. Each Ministry issues its own tenders. Deadlines range from 30 to
90 days. The bidding documents are published in French and replies must be in French
using French or European standards.
In December 1998, the Government Council approved a decree overhauling the public
procurement system, so as to enhance transparency, accountability and competitiveness
in procurement. In particular, the decree mandates public bid-opening sessions,
substantially narrows the scope of restricted bidding or sole-sourcing, extends the period
of bid submissions, and provides for mandatory special controls and audits for contracts
valued at over $500,000. The decree entered into effect in summer 1999, and has
reinforced the trend away from direct negotiation and toward open tenders in public
Protecting your Product from IPR
Morocco has a relatively complete regulatory and legislative system for the protection of
intellectual property. Morocco is in compliance
with its WTO TRIPS obligations. Morocco is a member of the World Intellectual
Property Organization (WIPO) and is a party to the Bern Copyright, Paris Industrial
Property, Universal Copyright, and Brussels Satellite Conventions. Morocco is also a
signatory to the Madrid, Nice, and Hague agreements for the protection of intellectual
The Office of Industrial Commercial Property (Office marocaine de la propriete
industrielle et commercial) in Casablanca serves as a registry for intellectual property
rights for patents and trademarks in the industrial and commercial sectors. The Moroccan
Bureau of Copyrights (Bureau marocain de droit d'auteur) in Rabat registers copyrights
for literary and artistic works, including software.
Need for a Local Attorney
There are a number of
English, French and German firms as well as Moroccan firms with strong international
expertise. New-to-market firms are strongly advised to obtain the services of a law
firm or the legal department of one of the multinational accounting or consulting firms.