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Morocco: Market Profile

Major Economic Indicators

Table: Major Economic Indicators (Morocco)
Table: Major Economic Indicators (Morocco)

Recent Developments

  • Relatively well-diversified in the region, the Moroccan economy is estimated to have a robust rebound of 4.2% in 2017, after a sluggish growth of 1.2% in 2016 due to a severe drought. Real GDP growth is expected to reach 3% in 2018.
  • The country positions itself as a regional hub in Africa. The government has in recent years implemented a series of economic liberalisations and financial reforms, in addition to the 2014-2020 Industrial Acceleration Plan with an aim to boost the country’s competitiveness.
  • Thanks to the liberalisation of its trade regime, Morocco’s simple average applied MFN tariff has fallen from 20.2% in 2009 to 11.5% in 2016.
  • Hong Kong's exports to Morocco surged by 53.4% year-on-year to US$167 million in 2017, while imports expanded by 11.6% year-on-year to US$110 million during the period, mainly driven by an increase in electronics imports.

Current Economic Situation

The Moroccan economy is estimated to have a robust rebound of 4.2% in 2017, after a sluggish growth of 1.2% in 2016 amid a severe drought that affected its agricultural output. Much of the growth in 2017 was due to the exceptionally good agricultural season, with 35% year-on-year increase in their cereal production. Real GDP growth is expected to reach 3% in 2018. Compared with other African countries, the Moroccan economy is relatively well-diversified. Agriculture aside, tourism, aerospace, automotive, phosphates, textiles and apparel are the key sectors. In addition, information technology outsourcing (ITO) and business process outsourcing (BPO) are fast developing in the country, capitalising on a lower-cost French-speaking population (and to a lesser extent, Spanish-speaking population) to tap the French outsourcing businesses (and similarly, the Spanish market).

While Morocco positions itself as a regional hub in Africa, the government has in recent years implemented a series of economic liberalisations and financial reforms, established free trade zones, and upgraded its port facilities, transportation and industrial infrastructure to boost the country’s competitiveness. Yet, youth unemployment remains a problem and the country’s reputation for stability has suffered after the protests in Northern Morocco since October 2016.

In 2014, the Moroccan government launched a new industrial policy entitled the 2014-2020 Industrial Acceleration Plan, with an aim to boost the country’s competitiveness and increase industry’s contribution to GDP from 14% to 23% by 2020 and create 500,000 new jobs. The plan would be implemented through the development of productive industrial clusters, optimisation of industrial zones and strengthening the country’s partnership with other African countries.

Trade Policy

The Moroccan Dirham is not yet fully convertible, but its foreign exchange regime is liberal enough not to hamper normal trade transactions. The currency is convertible for all trade in goods and services. The Foreign Exchange Office (Office des Changes) administers foreign exchange matters, and certain procedures have been delegated to authorised banks.

Currently, most products imported into Morocco are subject to customs duty, the parafiscal import tax (0.25% for most products), value added tax (VAT), and domestic consumption taxes (TIC), as well as other various duties and taxes.

Tariffs are calculated as a percentage of an import item’s CIF value (ad valorem). Thanks to the liberalisation of its trade regime, Morocco’s simple average applied MFN tariff has fallen from 20.2% in 2009 to 11.5% in 2016. Tariffs are higher on agricultural products (27.6% in 2016) than non-agricultural products (8.9%).

VAT applies to imported or locally produced goods and services. For imports, it is levied on the customs value, plus any duties and taxes imposed, including the domestic consumption tax. For locally produced goods, it is calculated on the selling price. VAT does not apply to agricultural activities.

Morocco has signed a number of free trade agreements (FTAs) or trade facilitation agreements, giving Moroccan products preferential access to other markets. These include: the US, the EU, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)[1]; Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia (the “Agadir Agreement”), Turkey, and the Pan-Arab Free Trade Area (PAFTA) which consists of 17 Arab member countries.

Investment Policy

Moroccan law provides specific financial, tax and customs advantages to investors, including the Investment Promotion Fund and the Hassan II Fund for Economic and Social Development for the promotion of investments in specific industrial sectors and the development of modern technologies.

On the other hand, businesses that commit to making an investment of an amount equal to or greater than 100 million Moroccan Dirham can benefit, as part of agreements to be concluded with the government, from exemption from import duty and the value added tax applicable to goods, materials and tools needed for their project and imported directly by the companies or on their behalf. This exemption is also granted to the parts, spare parts and accessories imported at the same time as capital goods, machinery and equipment for which they are intended. The investment must be made within 36 months from the date of signing of the agreement.

Hong Kong Trade with Morocco[2]

Hong Kong's total exports to Morocco surged by 53.4% year-on-year to US$167 million in2017. Major exports included telecom equipment and parts (US$127 million, 76.3% of total, +65.5% year-on-year), other machinery/equipment for particular industries and parts (US$5 million, 3.1% share, +192.4% year-on-year), and computers (US$5 million, 3% share, -10.7% year-on-year).

On the other hand, Hong Kong's imports from Morocco also increased strongly by 11.6% to US$110 million in 2017, driven by an increase in electronics imports. Major imports were semi-conductors, electronic valves and tubes (US$100 million, 91% share, +12.4% year-on-year), and telecom equipment and parts (US$2 million, 1.5% share, +31.9% year-on-year).

Table: Hong Kong’s Trade with Morocco
Table: Hong Kong’s Trade with Morocco

[1]  The EFTA has the following members: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

[2]  Since offshore trade has not been captured by ordinary trade figures, these numbers do not necessarily reflect the export businesses managed by Hong Kong companies.

Content provided by Picture: Melissa Ho