North African Markets Allure International Corporations
(albawaba) The North African markets are important outlets for Canadian exports, and they also present significant commercial opportunities for Canadian businesses. Canadexport, a newsletter of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, reports that Pierre Pettigrew, the country’s Trade Minister, will lead a multi-sectoral trade mission to Morocco, Algeria and Spain between October 10 and 20. According to the newsletter, due to two countries’ unprecedented political and economic reform, Algeria and Morocco offer Canadian companies attractive prospects in the sectors of agri-food, oil and gas, mining, telecommunications, the environment and health care. Spain’s information technology, transportation, construction and environment sectors all present strong opportunities as well. Trade flows, excluding services between Canada and the three countries, reached nearly $2.85 billion in 1999.
According to Canexport, Algeria is due to introduce a new mining code later this year, which will allow both domestic and foreign private investors to own up to 100 percent of mining operations. Under current legislation, private mining investments are limited to 49 percent of a companies’ capital. One Canadian firm has already taken advantage of Algeria’s impending investment reform. Toronto-based Breakwater Resources Ltd. signed a letter of intent to invest $100 million in developing a zinc mine in Algeria. Breakwater Resources Ltd. is a natural resources company engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development and mining of base and precious metals deposits, primarily zinc, lead and silver, in North and Central America and North Africa.
Canadian companies are not alone in their interest in the Algerian market. During a recent visit to Algeria, senior U.S. official Stuart Eizenstat urged authorities to liberalize and modernize the telecommunications sector, without which investors would remain distant, the North Africa Journal reported. In a debate with Algerian officials, Eizenstat said that some of America's largest technology companies such as Intel, Microsoft and Apple are interested in entering the Algerian market as long as intellectual property is guaranteed and the laws are enforced.
In response to international pressure, Algeria’s government is set to open to country’s telecommunications sector to local and foreign investors prior to the end of 2000. The draft law, approved in June, aims at opening the sector to private investors under a concession regime and setting up a state-run mobile watchdog to grant mobile phone licenses. The monopoly Administration de Postes et Telecommunication (PTT) presently has some 1.5 million fixed line subscribers and 60,000 mobile phone users. An international tender for the sale of a mobile telephone license will be launched early next year.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)