Morocco, the discreet destination of Spanish investors
Even though the Spanish agricultural sector has always considered Morocco as a competitor, in recent years more and more Spanish businessmen from this sector have settled in the African country. According to the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade, 37 Spanish companies registered in Morocco, i.e. more than 10% of all the Spanish companies in that country, are from the agricultural sector, including producers of fruits and vegetables, irrigation companies, fertilizers, seeds and seedlings, and producers of agricultural machinery.
The advantages that Morocco offers to a Spanish investor are obvious: its land is more affordable (although it is on a rental basis: foreigners cannot buy it), labor is up to ten times cheaper than in Spain, it has good weather for production, good communications, and trade agreements with many countries in the world.
These companies are considered Spanish due to the nationality of the owner and the origin of the initial investment. However, the export markets to which they ship their products (Europe, Russia, United States, China ...) consider they have purchased Moroccan goods. That's why they keep a low profile and avoid the media spotlight, as they don't want to be accused of relocating their agricultural business to the third world.
Spanish agricultural companies are concentrated in the Gharb region, a fertile plain between Tangier and Rabat, especially in the Souss Valley and its capital Agadir, which some already call the 'Moroccan Ejido', due to the strength of its fruit and vegetable sector.
There, Spanish companies mainly grow vegetables and strawberries, which are frequently sold under Spanish brands even though the European standard requires that the labels state they are of Moroccan origin, which is often done in small print.
Spanish head office
Many companies opened a subsidiary in Morocco that grew so much that it became their main branch. The head office, however small, remains in Spain. According to an entrepreneur in the sector, this is done in case of legal problems or simple defaults, as the European legislation protects investors better than Moroccan legislation.