Three leaders from our state government spent last week in Morocco traveling the countryside and meeting with business and government leaders from the African country.
Senator Jason Frerichs and Representatives David Lust and Bernie Hunhoff went on the trip funded by the State Legislative Leaders Foundation, a bi-partisan organization that works with legislative leaders across the United States.
Frerichs says the trip's roots date back to the founding of our country.
“The main focus of our transatlantic forum was to not only learn the history about Morocco. They are our longest ally. In 1777, President Washington signed the compacts and it’s been everlasting since then,” Frerichs said.
Morocco’s government has a bi-cameral legislature with an Islamic influence from the king, who is also their religious leader. Now not only did the trio get the chance to study the countries government, but they also learned about trade relations.
“Probably the most interesting thing from my standpoint and also something that’s very relevant for South Dakota, they have roughly 90 percent of the worlds phosphate reserves located right in the boundaries of Morocco. So this OCP group, which is a government-invested company, they have the authority to perform the mining of that phosphate,” Frerichs said.
They figure there are 6,000 to 8,000 years worth of phosphate reserves in the country.
Legislative leaders from Hawaii, California, Georgia, Alabama and several other states attended the tour as well.
“It was a very nice cross section of the United States legislators who represent diverse states yet at the same time various forms of state governments that we could share our experiences with the individuals in Morocco who not only are business oriented but also those who are involved in government in various levels,” Frerichs said.
Frerichs says Morocco is somewhat of the crown jewel of Africa and believes the intuitive farming mentality of many South Dakotan's is a good lesson for Moroccans to help build their economy.