Note to Editors: A photo of Ambassador Aziz Mekouar is available with this press release at http://newsinfo.colostate.edu/.
Moroccan Ambassador Aziz Mekouar will talk about U.S.-Moroccan relations and the recently implemented free trade agreement during a March 22 visit at Colorado State University.
His talk on "Bi-lateral Relations and Implications of the Free Trade Agreement" will be from 10-11 a.m. Wednesday, March 22, in Ammons Hall near the corner of Laurel and Meldrum streets on the Colorado State campus. The talk is free and open to the public.
Mekouar is on an aggressive, multi-city tour to inform U.S. businesses about the free-trade agreement, encourage investment and increase trade.
The Free Trade Agreement – called the "best market access package of any U.S. free trade agreement with a developing country to date" by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative – eliminates tariffs on 95 percent of all bilateral trade between the United States and Morocco, and includes stringent protections for intellectual property and the environment, according to the Moroccan-American Trade & Investment Council.
Morocco has the largest Free Trade Agreement network in the world, so U.S. goods produced in Morocco enjoy duty-free access to the United States, European Union, Turkey, Arab countries and West Africa – a one billion customer market.
During his visit to Fort Collins, Mekouar will meet with Colorado State students who are competing in an international competition organized by EdVenture Partners on behalf of the Moroccan-American Trade and Investment Council. The BK410 Marketing Research class is competing with such universities as the University of Texas, the University of Illinois and Simon Fraser University in Canada on the Brand Morocco Research Program.
"The ambassador is coming to Colorado State because he received such a positive report of the students’ interest in the program from Adil Embarch, the economic counselor to the Moroccan Embassy," said Ajay Menon, dean of the College of Business. "This is a great testimony to the hard work and excellence of the students and faculty in our college and the university’s commitment to economic development on an international level."
Colorado State students are investigating whether the U.S. specialty processed foods industry is viable for potential Moroccan exports. Students are exploring the industry’s channel of distribution and the key reasons shoppers at large U.S. grocery chains purchase specialty foods. They are also testing consumers’ perceptions and attitudes about Moroccan foods.
"Students in the class often work on research projects for outside clients to give them hands-on learning experience," said Dave Gilliland, a marketing professor who teaches the course largely to senior marketing students. "I want them to learn to do good research and the importance of research to a marketing-focused organization. I’d like them to recognize what a good job they are doing and to have confidence that they can execute research methods at a very high level."
Primary U.S. exports to Morocco include aircraft, cereals and machinery, while Morocco ships semiconductors and electronic products, foodstuffs, processed goods and textiles to the U.S. market, according to the Moroccan-American trade organization.
The ambassador’s interest in Colorado State opened the eyes of marketing major Ryan Rusler to the influence he and his peers could have in the world.
"We look at it like a badge of honor," said Rusler, who’s talking with U.S. merchandisers about their buying habits for the project. "It’s good to look at something on the outside rather than just in your reading material and actually physically go out and do what you’re learning."
Mekouar was appointed ambassador of His Majesty the King of Morocco to the United States in 2002. He has served in various leadership roles for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, most recently as chairman of Council of the organization. He has also served as ambassador to Angola, Portugal, Italy, Malta, Albania and the Sovereign Order of Malta.
He attended a French high school in Lisbon, Portugal, and obtained a graduate degree from the Higher School of Commerce in Paris. He is fluent in Arabic, English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese.