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Cablegate: U.S. Commercial Service Director General Israel Hernandez

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHCL #0272 0161202
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161202Z JAN 08
FM AMCONSUL CASABLANCA
TO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7941
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 8190

UNCLAS CASABLANCA 000272

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

USDOC FOR HQ/USFCS/USDOC/CS DG ISRAEL HERNANDEZ
SECSTATE FOR MOROCCO DESK OFFICER RANDAL KAAILAU
USDOC FOR 3131/USFCS/OIO/RD/ANESA/GLOOSE/GLITMAN/ STAUHIDI, HOLLY
VINEYARD/MAC/ITA/USDOC, MICHELLE ONEILL/OUS/ITA USDOC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BEXP ECON ETRD BMGT PREL MO
SUBJECT: U.S. COMMERCIAL SERVICE DIRECTOR GENERAL ISRAEL HERNANDEZ
VISITS MOROCCO

1. (U) Summary: Director General and Assistant Secretary for Trade
Promotion Israel Hernandez visited Morocco December 5-7 to reinforce
the important friendship and bilateral trade relationship between
the U.S. and Morocco. He met separately with Minister of Industry,
Commerce and New Technologies Ahmed Chami, Customs Director General
Abdellatif Zaghnoun, and Minister of Foreign Trade Abdellatif
Mazouz. He also held several press interviews with local and
regional media, including a live interview with Al Jazeera, which
reaches an average of 40 million viewers around the world; the
interviews were also covered by the local broadcast and print press.
The Director General was accompanied by Special Assistant Aamir
Hanif. End Summary.

2. (SBU) During his meeting with Ahmed Chami, Minister of Industry,
Commerce and New Technologies, the Director General highlighted his
belief that the dynamic change that is transforming Morocco is
creating opportunities for international business and investment.
Minister Chami agreed, adding that future change in Morocco will be
even more dramatic in the coming years due to Morocco's adherence to
open markets and major reforms. DG Hernandez referred to the
U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement as the foundation and platform for
growth, and that the primary purpose of his visit was to support
this key bilateral agreement. Further discussion focused on
education and the need to raise the literacy rate in Morocco, on
building investment, and engaging more small and medium sized
enterprises. The Minister added that the new Tangier Med port,
which is planned to become the largest port in the Mediterranean,
will contribute to an expansion of trade, with the goal of Morocco
becoming a world transshipment hub similar to Singapore. DG
Hernandez reminded the Minister of the upcoming trade and investment
conference that will be co-chaired by the Secretary of Commerce in
2008.

3. (SBU) Minister Chami suggested that the U.S. should continue
building its image in the Middle East and North Africa region, while
continuing to advance the peace process in the Middle East. DG
Hernandez responded that the Annapolis conference was a very
positive step and mentioned that the President was planning a visit
to the Middle East in the near future.

4. (U) In his meeting with DG Hernandez, the Director General of
Moroccan Customs, Abdellatif Zaghnoun, highlighted his agency's
extensive efforts to ensure smooth processing of legal goods through
Moroccan borders, enforcement of safety and security of commerce,
and his agency's efforts to fight smuggling. DG Zaghnoun noted
numerous measures already taken and underscored the important
contribution of U.S. customs training in the development of Moroccan
customs' expertise. DG Zaghnoun welcomed continued U.S.-Moroccan
customs collaboration and solicited information on any new
technologies available that might support Moroccan efforts.

5. (U) A live interview on Al Jazeera's Rabat-based Maghreb news
bulletin (broadcast daily at 2200 GMT) was the highlight of numerous
outreach events. DG Hernandez also conducted interviews that were
broadcast by SNRT television -- Morocco's most-watched local
television station -- during its prime-time Arabic-language news
broadcast, as well as by SNRT's radio affiliate. Three local
newspapers, including the largest circulation French-language daily,
also printed excerpts of their interviews with DG Hernandez. During
these interviews, DG Hernandez underscored the excellent
relationship between the U.S. and Morocco, while emphasizing
opportunities for increased bilateral trade and investment, and
expressing support for Moroccan reform efforts.

GREEENE

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