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

The value of energy imports, including gas and oil, fell 35%

  
Photo used for illustrative purpose only. A view over the rooftops of Tangier, Morocco, shows the city hugging the coastline.

Photo used for illustrative purpose only. A view over the rooftops of Tangier, Morocco, shows the city hugging the coastline.

Getty Images/Pam Susemiehl

RABAT- Morocco’s trade deficit fell by 25.6% 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% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

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

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

Drought has cut Morocco’s cereals harvest by 39% this year, leading to a 44.5% 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% to 57.7 billion dirhams, followed by farm and agri-food sales at 50 billion dirhams.

Exports of phosphates and byproducts including fertilisers fell 2.2% to 41.5 billion dirhams.

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

(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Alison Williams) ((ahmed.eljechtimi@thomsonreuters.com;))

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