Banque Populaire Inaugurates Representative Office in Washington DC

Washington D.C. – The President of Banque Centrale Populaire Group (BCP) Mohamed Benchaâboun inaugurated on Tuesday in Washington, a new representative office in Washington D.C., making BCP the first ever Moroccan financial institution to open a representative office in the United States.The President and Morocco’s Ambassador to the United States, Rachad Bouhlal, together cut the ribbon at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held in the new office on Connecticut Avenue. The event was, attended by Ambassadors from six other African countries, hi-level officials of BCP, members of the Moroccan community in the greater Washington area, New York, Texas, and other states, as well a number of American business leaders.Speaking during a celebratory dinner held afterward at the Mayflower Hotel, Mr. Benchaâboun said that the Representative Office, which received approval by the U.S. Federal Reserve in March 2014, “will facilitate the business relationship of the Moroccan community with Banque Populaire and put at the disposal of all of its customers the necessary information on financial products and services offered by the bank in Morocco.” Noting that the Moroccan community had clearly expressed its “wish to see a first class Moroccan financial group established” in the U.S., he said, “Well — we listened.”“Through the services offered by our Representative Office in Washington,” he continued, the 450,000 Moroccans in the U.S. “now have access to the banking, financial services, and benefits offered by the entire Banque Centrale Populaire network in Morocco.“Our office serves as an intermediary between you and your bank in Morocco to open checking and savings accounts, apply for loans, use multiple investment instruments that are available in Morocco, and access Banque Populaire’s banking expertise to develop financing solutions for either your personal business or your business projects in Morocco. This is the primary purpose of our Representative Office and its fundamental mission.”He went on to add that BCP will also take the necessary steps to establish agreements with the major U.S. financial institutions to make available to Moroccans “in the very near future” the means to make secure money transfers are faster and at reduced cost. “I know how important this is to you,” he said, highlighting the fact that money transfers received in Morocco from the United States had exceeded $500 million in 2014.Mr. Benchaâboun pointed out that one of the group’s primary goals is to continue to play its role of “link” between Moroccans living abroad and their country of origin.“The opening of the representative office is also part of our strategy to further strengthen our relations with the Moroccan diaspora wherever it resides, and enable its members to be close as possible to their regions of origin,” he noted.Another important function of the Representative Office is to facilitate investment from the U.S., an area in which he said, “Our Representative Office in Washington has an extremely important role to play.” The office will “give potential American investors a better window on opportunities available” under the bank’s programs, and “allow us to bring all of the Group’s expertise to bear on implementing those opportunities,” he said.“But that is not all,” he continued. The representative office in Washington has also been assigned the mission of identifying, promoting, and facilitating the “huge, as yet unexploited” opportunities of the Free Trade Agreement signed by Morocco and the United States in 2004.Noting that establishing the Representative Office had not been easy, Mr. Benchaâboun sincerely thanked Ambassador Bouhlal for his “unfailing and constant support” of the project, especially during the “long and arduous” Federal Reserve approval process.President of Banque Centrale Populaire Group (BCP) Mohamed Benchaâboun inaugurating Banque Populaire’s office in Washington D.CAmbassador Bouhlal, also offered some brief remarks, stressing that the inauguration of the new Moroccan banking platform of BCP is part of the spirit and letter of the “exceptional partnership between Morocco and the United States, particularly after the historic visit by His Majesty King Mohammed VI in Washington in November 2013, and the summit meeting at the White House between the Sovereign and President Barack Obama.”He noted that such a move carries “promising prospects” for the development of economic and business relations, particularly in a tripartite approach that engages U.S., Moroccan, and sub-Saharan Africa business, in line with the ambitious partnership that tops the African strategy implemented by King Mohammed VI.In a surprise move at the end of the dinner, the Moroccan community expressed its appreciation to BCP’s management, and presented engraved plaques to Mr. Benchaâboun, to the General Manager of BCP in charge of the project, Mr. Läidi El Wardi, and to Samira Hadri, the first head of BCP’s Representative Office in the U.S. read more

CAF President Not Sure Cameroon Is Ready to Host CAN 2019

Rabat – The head of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has questioned whether Cameroon is ready to host Africa’s biggest football event next year.Ahmad Ahmad has questioned Cameroon’s ability to host in 2019.Ahmad Ahmad also opened the door of speculations that the location of the  Africa Cup of Nations might be changed. “I am not sure Cameroon is ready to host the AFCON,”  Ahmad told KweséESPN on Monday, August 27.He added that “there are many things which are still wanting and yet there is little time left.”In 2017, Ahmad had asked the African country to make more efforts to convince the confederation that they were able to host CAN 2019.Ahmad also said CAF now sends experts to inspect the host country selected as the host of the competition.CAF’s experts were sent in August 2017, but it is unclear what their decision has been.The experts, however, do not seem to be satisfied with what Cameroon has offered so far.“It would be dangerous to risk African players, especially the professionals plying their trade in Europe and other continents, to play under difficult conditions and facilities,” Ahmad said in his recent statement to KweséESPN.There were speculations that Morocco was interested in hosting the tournament. Head of Morocco’s Royal Football Federation (FRMF) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports both  denied the rumors, emphasizing that Cameroon would host the tournament, and Morocco had not thought about replacing it.The CAF president also said in an interview with Cameroon outlet Camfoot published August 9 that the competition “will be held in Cameroon … until proven otherwise.” CAN 2019 will boast the participation of 24 national teams, up from the usual 16. For the qualifier games, Morocco will play against Malawi September 8 in Casablanca, Comoros on October 10, and Cameroon on November 17.Despite its difficulties preparing for the continental tournament, Cameroonian presidential candidate Joshua Osih wants his country to present its candidature as a potential host for the 2030 World Cup. read more

TSX closes in the red for third straight session

TORONTO — The Toronto Stock Exchange closed lower for the third straight session on Tuesday as investors direct their attention back to the fundamentals of the Canadian market.The S&P/TSX composite index lost 49.31 points to close at 14,376.24 after starting the day in the black.Allan Small, senior investment adviser at Holliswealth, said the markets had been positive following the resolution of the latest outbreak in the Greek debt crisis as well as last week’s rate cut from the Bank of Canada.With those headline-grabbing developments out of the way, he said, investors are turning back to look at the realities of the market and aren’t liking what they see.“We had our rally, and now we’re concentrating on other areas of the market,” he said. “And right now in Canada those other areas are struggling.” In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 181.12 points to 17,919.29, while the Nasdaq fell 10.74 points to 5,208.12. The S&P 500 lost 9.07 points to close at 2,119.21.The Canadian dollar was up 0.29 of a cent to 77.23 cents US.Small said the increase was the result of day-to-day volatility rather than any sign that the sliding loonie had reached bottom.“The direction of our dollar is definitely down,” he said. “I’d be surprised if we see a big run-up in the dollar now.”The Canadian dollar could fall even further against the greenback, Small said, and will remain weak for the near future as Canada looks to grow.“How long it will stay that way remains to be seen,” he said. “I think it’s dependent on how long it takes our economy to bounce back from a negative first half.”Economists and analysts have suggested that Canada is in a technical recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, although final second-quarter numbers have not been released.Small said the prospect of an interest-rate hike from the American central bank this fall is the biggest driver for the Canadian dollar’s value. “Our dollar is going to trade more on what the U.S. does than what we do here in our country,” he said.On the commodities markets, the September contract for crude oil closed up 42 cents to US$50.86, while the August contract for natural gas climbed 5.9 cents to US$2.882.The August contract for gold ended the day down US$3.50 to US$1,103.50 per ounce.Small noted that gold has become much less important as a safe-haven commodity as global markets have equalized following the volatility of the 2008 downturn, when gold’s value spiked.“I really don’t see a catalyst for gold to go any higher,” Small said.The September contract for copper closed at US$2.47, down 0.7 of a US cent.The Canadian Press read more