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Morocco exporters eye U.S. market

Casablanca , Morocco – Now that many Moroccan companies have established themselves as home textiles exporters to Europe and the Middle East , some upholstery fabric manufacturers based in the northwestern African nation are turning their sights to the largely uncharted U.S. market.

The one-year-old USAID-funded Morocco New Business Opportunities Program (NBO) was established to help bridge the gap. “ Our objective is to encourage trade between the U.S. and Morocco ,” said Mike Blakeley, director of enterprise assistance for the NBO, which is managed by his Washington, D.C.-based company, Nathan Associates Inc. “And a t the same time, we are here to facilitate U.S. companies interested in sourcing products out of Morocco ,” he said.

NBO’s efforts are already starting to pay off, albeit in small numbers.

U.S. Customs reported a 46.2% increase of the value of U.S. imports of Moroccan textile products from 2005, when the value was $64.7 million, to 2006 when it rose to $94.6 million. A breakdown of these numbers is not available. But while they may be heavily skewed by imports of garments/apparel textiles, they do include home textiles, which are dominated by upholstery fabrics.

For home textiles, industry veteran Louis Ragy – formerly of Trade Am – is NBO’s senior international market expert, helping Moroccan suppliers with everything from forming links to U.S. buyers, to advising on fashion trends.

“These companies offer world-class manufacturing at very competitive pricing for the U.S. market,” Ragy said. “They offer European quality and styling at very competitive pricing. We are bridging the gap by taking our know-how and pairing it with their know-how to bring the product to the American consumer.”

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