The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I've Been Meaning To Tell You...

I've been meaning to tell you all about this trip that I've mentioned.

About two weeks ago, I was approached by a group called the "Financial Services Volunteer Corps" about the possibility of joining a delegation heading over to Morocco. After getting permission from the appropriate parties (namely my bosses at NFIB and my wife), I agreed.

The project is funded by the US Agency for International Development and is looking at ways to reform the political, legal, and economic systems in Morocco to improve the climate for small and medium enterprises. Morocco is apparently the most westernized of islamic and North African nations (given its history and proximity to Europe), but its economy is fairly middling.

This isn't surprising when you consider the close ties it has historically had with France. No, this isn't an excuse to beat up on the French. Merely that if you've been watching the news and reading the papers lately (especially the Washington Post), you know about the economic struggles France has been having.

Considering that most businesses within an economy are small businesses (90% of businesses in the US are small), and considering that small businesses are generally accepted to be the engines of innovation and job creation (notwithstanding the "research" of AEI's Veronique DeRugy, which I will devote a separate post to), then if a system wishes to boost its economic vitality, it has to look at what is going on with its small and medium enterprise sector. Thus this trip.

My role will be to lend the perspective on property rights and regulatory issues and their impacts on small business. Apparently the Moroccan bureaucracy and the legal systems are quite something to behold. The Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom has this to say:

"[T]he inefficiency of the judicial system is holding back economic development.… [T]he courts move too slowly in dealing with cases, bankruptcy protection and liquidation procedures are inefficient and the courts often fail to enforce legal rulings.… [M]any of those working in the judiciary had inadequate expertise…. [T]he courts have [an estimated] backlog of 600,000 cases." A survey among businesses by the American Chamber of Commerce in Morocco revealed that corruption in the legal system is regarded as one of the main impediments to doing business...

"Regulations and bureaucracy remain significantly burdensome despite the government's attempts at reform... According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, "Even in areas where the regulations are favorable on paper, there are often problems in practice. Government procedures are not always transparent, efficient or quick. Routine permits, especially those required by local governments, can be difficult to obtain."

I leave this Saturday, and will return the following Saturday. The trip will take me to Rabat and Casablanca (but not, unfortunately, Fes or Marrakech).

I'll try to post messages (and pictures) while I'm gone, but I can't promise anything.

- Andrew Langer


Blogger Cajun Tiger said...

Hey...while you are in the area...stop in for a visit =)

April 03, 2006 6:39 AM


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