The biggest car factory in North Africa has been officially opened in Morocco by the French firm Renault.
The plant is in Melloussa, a small town on the Mediterranean near Tangiers, in an area close to Europe which offers tax benefits to manufacturers.
Low-cost cars will be produced under the Dacia brand for emerging markets and Renault executives say up to 10% of the production could be sold locally.
It employs about 2,000 local staff and intends to triple production by 2015.
The BBC’s Nora Fakim in Tangiers says this could boost staff numbers to 6,000 and create up to 35,000 jobs indirectly.
In recent years, Morocco’s economy has been expanding thanks to free trade deals with international partners, but unemployment remains an issue – especially for graduates, who hold weekly protests outside parliament.
Renault was about to abandon this investment and the Moroccan state gave it huge advantages to convince Renault to continue”
Source: Fouad Abdelmoumi, Economist, BBC News