Area: 446,550 sq. km (the internationally disputed territory of Western Sahara comprises another 226,000 sq. km)
Population: 33,503,000 (2014, est.)
GDP: USD 110.0bn (2014, est.)
Exports: USD 19.56bn (2014, est.)
Imports: USD 40.04bn (2014, est.)
Currency: Moroccan Dirham (MAD)
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 9.9 MAD (01/2016)
Economic Structure and Development:
With a growth rate estimated at 5.1% in 2013, Morocco’s economy returned to its constant economic upturn after a slowdown in 2012, with a growth rate at only 2.7%, caused by poor harvest and political uncertainty. The main factors behind the positive development were the rising price of phosphate and a slight recovery oft he European market, as well as high agricultural productivity.
The local GDP sum amounted to USD 96.13bn in 2012 and rose to USD 104.799bn in 2013, although Morocco is still burdened with public depts reaching 61.3% of the total GDP. Morocco’s economy is dominated by agriculture, tourism, the industry sector, especially phosphate, and the power sector. Inflation rate was expected to increase slightly from 1.3% in 2012 up to 2.5% in 2014. The budget deficit of 8.4% of GDP in 2012 had been decreasing slightly by approximately 5% since the beginning of 2013 due to a drop in energy imports, which decreased by 8.9%.
The higher GDP growth rate in 2013 was achieved through a 20% rise in the agriculture production as a counterbalance to other sectors. The sector employs 44.6% oft he country’s total population and contributes 15.5% to the GDP. The main products are barely, wheat, citrus fruits, grapes, vegetables and olives. Besides the local market, the agricultural products are present on the international market. To increase further engagement, the government established ‘Plan Maroc Vert’ in 2012. The strategy aims to mobilize EUR 10bn from the public and private sector by 2020 in order to increase professionalism and diversity in the agricultural sector and to reach a doubling of its contribution to the GDP. Due to subsides, German companies can contribute from the market with their products, especially with agricultural technique, chemicals, seed products and knowledge transfer.
The country’s ambitious plans to develop facilities in order to generate renewable energies remain highly important due to the growing demand. Compared to its Arab neighbours, Morocco is poor in energy resources and imports 96% of its demand from abroad, meaning that energy imports account for almost one quarter of the total import volume, a figure that has been continually increasing since the Syrian crisis, as have oil prices. Consequently, the trade deficit reached USD 23.9bn in 2013. Nevertheless, the government is developing the sector and improving the energy supply through several plans. The largest projects are currently the construction of the 1,320MW-‘Safi IPP’, a coal-fired power plant, whose value is estimated at USD 1.5bn and which will be finished in 2017. The expansion of the coal-fired 1,320MW-power plant Jorf Lasfar has been finished in 2014, with a project value of USD 1bn. Generating energy from coal remains attractive however, the Moroccan government aims to increase production from renewable energies up to 40% of its total energy production by 2020.
Besides the plan to lower energy imports and become more self-sufficient, plans exist to export energy to Europe through underwater cables. Morocco therefore welcomes foreign investors and partnerships. The latest project under way is the Ouarazate solar plant, with a value of USD 1bn. The Solar Plan Masen, estimated at 4.5bn, will have been tendered after the survey is completed.
Regarding the mining sector, Morocco is the world largest exporter of phosphates. The sector is dominated by the state-owned company ‘Office Cherifien des Phosphates’ (OCP) which accounts a quarter of the total exports. After a small decline of 20% in 2013, caused by lower global prices for minerals, the OCP predicted a rapid recovery by 2015 and will increase the production from the present 34m tones to 50m tons by 2020. The Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) guaranteed a loan of USD 721m to support the development plans as well as the Islamic Development Bank, which signed a USD 150m agreement. The number of joint ventures between the OCP and foreign firms has increased, markedly so in 2013.
The tourism sector is a supporting pillar of Moroccan economy. With over 9 million tourists in 2011 and 2012, the sector amounts to 10% of the total GDP and employs 500,000 Moroccans. Most of the visitors came from Europe, mainly France (2.9m) and Spain (1.8m). The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicted a 3-4% growth for the Moroccan tourism in 2013/2014. This positive development was supported by foreign investments of USD 1.65bn in 2012, which created 5,500 new jobs and 12,500 additional beds. In 2010, the Ministry of Tourism had released the ‘Vision 2020’ plan to increase bed capacities, visitors, jobs and revenues.
The country anticipated some enormous projects in infrastructure development. The plans for Ch’Rafete City will pave the way for Morocco’s new third largest city, next to Tangier. The project’s total value is estimated at USD 3bn and will be completed by the end of 2020. It will provide around 30,000 housing units, commercial areas and other facilities. Another housing project is the Al-Firdaous Integrated Housing, which has a worth of USD 1bn and will have been completed by the end of 2015, providing low-budget housing. Likewise, Morocco’s traffic system, consisting of a wide road network (60,000km), 11 commercial ports, a railway system (1,907km) and 15 airports, is known as the best developed in the North African region.
Another important source of income is the workers’ remittance from abroad, with a value of USD 6.88bn, which contributed approximately 6,9% to the GDP in 2013.
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