Morocco trade deficit down 26 pct in first 10 months of year

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Morocco’s trade deficit fell by 25.6 percent to 128.5 billion dirhams ($14.2 billion) in the first 10 months of 2020, the foreign exchange regulator said.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit both Moroccan exports and demand, with growth expected to contract by up to 7 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Moroccan imports dropped 16.6 percent to 342.2 billion dirhams and exports shrunk 10 percent to 213.7 billion dirhams from January to October compared to the previous year, the regulator said in a monthly report.

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The value of energy imports, including gas and oil, fell 35 percent to 41 billion dirhams, following lower prices.

Drought has cut Morocco’s cereals harvest by 39 percent this year, leading to a 44.5 percent increase in soft wheat imports to 11.6 billion dirhams and in barley to 2 billion dirhams.

The automotive sector still topped Morocco’s industrial exports despite a drop in sales of 13.5 percent to 57.7 billion dirhams, followed by farm and agri-food sales at 50 billion dirhams.

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Exports of phosphates and byproducts including fertilizers fell 2.2 percent to 41.5 billion dirhams.

Travel receipts, crucial to Morocco’s inflow of hard currency, dropped 60.3 percent to 26.6 billion dirhams, while remittances from Moroccans living abroad rose 1.7 percent to 55.8 billion dirhams and foreign direct investment slid 31.2 percent to 11.6 billion dirhams.

Morocco’s foreign exchange reserves stood at 292.8 billion dirhams in November enough to cover 7 months of import needs, according to central bank data.

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