The other day I visited the Kingdom of Morocco for the first time in a long while, to attend several important events. One was the ceremony celebrating the 10th anniversary of Sumitomo Electric Group's business activities in Morocco. The ceremony was attended by His Excellency Abdellatif Maazouz, Minister of Foreign Trade of Morocco; His Excellency Toshinori Yanagiya, Ambassador of Japan to Morocco and many other guests. At the ceremony I received very warm words of sympathy and encouragement from our Moroccan friends regarding the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them again for their kind concern.
As for our group's operation in Morocco, it started in 2001 with our purchase of the wiring harness division of an Italian company, including its manufacturing facilities in Morocco. As the director in charge of automotive business in those days, I visited Morocco several times for the negotiations.
Since then, our Moroccan operation has steadily expanded as the exportation base for the European markets, thanks to our customers' understanding and our local partners' cooperation. On thinking that we have made it through the first decade, I am filled with deep emotion. At present, our wiring harness business in Morocco comprises 7 factories with 15,000 employees in total. We are one of the largest contributors to the country's exportation among all industrial categories.
During my trip, I visited our group's Kenitra Plant in Kenitra City near the capital of Rabat and Ain Sebaa Plant near Casablanca. At the both plants, I was strongly encouraged by the high morale of the personnel.
To further expand our Moroccan operation in the future, we must not only improve the manufacturing sites as the exportation base for the European markets, but also seriously consider supplying our products from there to the North American markets, drawing on Morocco's advantageous location. Moreover, there is still much room for improvement in terms of each of the SEQCD (Safety, Environment, Quality, Cost, and Delivery), the fundamentals of manufacturing. In any case, guided by the principle "Mutual Prosperity, Respect for the Public Good," we will continue doing our best to develop our activities in Morocco, which we hope will lead to Morocco's industrial promotion and stronger Moroccan-Japanese friendship.