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TITLE: MOROCCO ECONOMIC POLICY AND TRADE PRACTICES
DATE: FEBRUARY 1994
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Key Economic Indicators
(Billions of dirhams (Dh) unless otherwise noted)
1991 1992 1993 /5
GDP (current dirhams) 240.8 245.6 263.1
GDP (1980 dirhams) 113.5 110.1 112.3
Real GDP growth (pct.) 5.1 -3.0 2.0
GDP by Sector
Agriculture and Fisheries 45.5 35.3 n/a
Mining 4.6 4.4 n/a
Energy and Water 15.5 17.0 n/a
Manufacturing 43.0 46.3 n/a
Construction 12.2 12.5 n/a
Commerce 49.9 54.4 n/a
Other Services 26.8 28.5 n/a
Transport and Communications 14.9 16.5 n/a
Government 28.5 30.6 n/a
Per Capita Income (Dh) 9,632 9,594 10,081
Labor Force (million) /1 4.1 4.1 4.3
Unemployment (pct.) /1 17.3 16.0 n/a
Money and Prices
Money (M2, pct. change) 16.8 9.3 7.4
Interest Rate /2 10.9 11.7 11.6
Savings Rate (pct. GDP) 21.8 22.8 n/a
Investment Rate (pct. GDP) 22.9 23.8 n/a
CPI (pct. change) /3 8.2 4.9 4.5
WPI (pct. change) /3 6.4 2.8 4.7
Exchange Rate (Dh/$) /3 8.7 8.5 9.2
Balance of Payments and Trade
Total Exports (FOB) 37.3 34.0 32.5
Exports to U.S. 0.9 1.3 n/a
Total Imports (CIF) 59.7 62.8 60.9
Imports from U.S. 3.5 3.7 n/a
Aid from U.S. ($ mil.) /4 137.8 123.7 116.1
External Publ. Debt ($ bil.) 21.1 21.3 n/a
Debt Service Payments($ bil.) 2.4 2.6 n/a
Forex Reserves ($ bil.) 3.4 3.6 3.7
Trade Balance -22.4 -28.8 -28.4
Balance with U.S. -2.6 -2.4 n/a
Current Account Balance -3.6 4.0 n/a
2/ Avg. on bank deposits.
3/ Annual avg.
4/ Fiscal year.
5/ Projections based on data available in October 1993.
1. General Policy Framework
Morocco is a lower middle income country with a
market-oriented economy. Its major sources of foreign exchange
have traditionally been phosphates, tourism and workers'
remittances, but exports of agricultural products (including
fish) and manufactured goods (particularly clothing) are
becoming increasingly important. Although not included in the
trade statistics, exports of cannabis are believed to be
Morocco has pursued an economic reform program supported by
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank since the
early 1980s. Reforms under the program included replacing
quantitative import restrictions with tariffs, reducing the
overall level of protection, liberalizing the foreign exchange
regime and improving the climate for foreign investment. The
generally positive effects of the reform program are currently
overshadowed by a two-year drought and the recession in
Morocco's principal European markets.
The government has steadily reduced its fiscal deficit in
recent years. The 1992 budget called for a fiscal deficit
equal to 0.8 percent of GDP, as compared to 3.1 percent the
year before and 12 percent in 1982. However, the economic
slowdown, due largely to the effects of a drought, resulted in
a 1992 fiscal deficit equal to about 1.7 percent of GDP.
Similarly the 1993 budget projected a deficit of around 1.0
percent of GDP, but the actual deficit will probably be over 2
percent of GDP due to the continued drought and weak economies
in Morocco's principal European export markets.
The Central Bank succeeded in stemming the rapid growth of
money supply resulting from the simultaneous replacement of
quantitative credit controls with indirect controls and
increased foreign exchange inflows associated with the Gulf
War. It increased the reserve requirement several times in
late 1991 and in 1992. In October 1992 it reduced the reserve
requirement from 25 to 10 percent, but required the reserves
thus freed to be put into seven-year treasury bonds. The
growth in the money supply (M2) fell from 16.8 percent in 1991
to 9.3 percent in 1992, and is expected to be under eight
percent in 1993. Real interest rates remain high; The rate on
bank loans exceeds 14 percent, as compared to an inflation rate
of around 5 percent.
2. Exchange Rate Policies
The Moroccan government has made the dirham convertible for
an increasing number of transactions over the last few years.
As of February 1993 the dirham is convertible for all current
transactions (as defined by the IMF's article VIII) and some
capital transactions, including capital repatriation by foreign
investors. Foreign exchange is routinely available through the
commercial banks for such transactions on presentation of
documents. In mid-1993 the Central Bank lifted restrictions on
Moroccan companies borrowing abroad.
The Moroccan monetary authorities set the rate of the
dirham against a basket of currencies of Morocco's principal
trading partners. There are no parallel or multiple rates.
The dirham rate against the dollar reflects the rate between
the dollar and the other currencies in the basket. The changes
in the dollar exchange rate against other major currencies are
therefore reflected in the dollar's rate against the dirham.
3. Structural Policies
Morocco gradually reduced barriers to trade over the last
decade, although the level of protection remains high. In
recent years the government replaced quantitative restrictions
(e.g. government monopolies and import licenses) with tariffs
for all but a few goods, notably foodstuffs and textiles. In
1993 the government increased the tariffs on meat and dairy
products to between 100 to 365 percent in preparation for the
elimination of the import license requirement for those
products. The new tariffs are designed to provide initially
the same level of protection as the license requirements and
are scheduled to be gradually reduced. Quantitative
restrictions on cereals, sugar and edible oils are scheduled to
be replaced by additional duties in 1994. The maximum tariff
rate on other goods was recently reduced from 40 percent to 35
percent. There is also a 12.5 percent surtax on all imports.
The Moroccan government has made significant structural
changes in the financial system over the last few years.
Credit ceilings were replaced with indirect controls through
interest rates and the treasury began to pay market interest
rates for new debt issues through treasury auctions. Interest
rates on deposits were deregulated but lending rates were
subject to a ceiling based on a reference rate determined by
the average rate paid on short term deposits. In 1993 the
ceiling on lending rates was changed from a one third mark-up
over the reference rate to a 2.5 percentage point mark-up,
effectively reducing the interest rate spread by about 1.5
percentage points. The government began enforcing new capital
ratios for banks in early 1993 which had the effect of reducing
the ability of banks to provide credit.
Morocco has a three-part tax structure consisting of a
value added tax (VAT), a corporate profits tax, and an
individual income tax. The Investment Code provides exemptions
from some taxes based on the type and location of investment.
The Moroccan government began its privatization program in
earnest in 1993 with the sale of some of its interests in
several companies. The 1989 privatization law calls for the
government to privatize a total of 112 firms by the end of 1995.
4. Debt Management Policies
Morocco's foreign debt burden has declined steadily in
recent years. Debt service payments before rescheduling, as a
share of goods and services exports, have fallen from over 50
percent in 1989 to about 30 percent in 1992, which is roughly
what actual rescheduled debt service payments have averaged.
Accordingly, the Moroccan government does not plan further
Paris Club rescheduling. The discount on Moroccan debt in the
secondary market declined sharply in 1993. In late 1993 the
Finance Ministry established a framework for debt/equity
conversions designed to reduce the outstanding debt burden and
to encourage foreign investment.
5. Significant Barriers to U.S. Exports and Investment
Import Licenses: A new foreign trade act passed in 1991
(but not fully implemented as of late 1993) reverses a legal
presumption of import protection, spelling out permissible
grounds for exceptions to the general principle of free trade.
It replaces quantitative restrictions (e.g. government
monopolies and import licenses) on the importation of
politically sensitive items such as cereals, oilseeds, milk and
sugar with tariffs (both ad valorem and variable). The effect
of the new law on U.S. exports will depend on implementing
regulations setting the levies and specifying the goods that
will remain subject to non-tariff barriers.
Services Barriers: In November 1989 King Hassan abrogated
a 1973 law requiring majority Moroccan ownership of firms in a
wide range of industries, thus eliminating what had been a
significant barrier to U.S. service exports to Morocco. In
1993 the Moroccan government repealed the 1974 decree limiting
foreign ownership in the petroleum refining and distribution
sector. This was done in preparation for the privatization of
the government's shares in several petroleum distribution
companies that were nationalized in the 1970s.
Standards, Testing, Labeling and Certification: Morocco
applies approximately 500 industrial standards based on
international norms. These apply primarily to packaging,
metallurgy and construction. Sanitary regulations apply to
virtually all food imports. Meat should be slaughtered
according to Islamic law.
Investment Barriers: The Government of Morocco actively
encourages foreign investment. The Investment Law contains
separate sectoral codes covering industry, tourism, housing,
maritime, mining, petroleum exploitation, and exports. These
codes provide incentives equally to both Moroccan and foreign
investors. There are no foreign investor performance
requirements although investors receive incentives such as tax
breaks under the various sectoral codes depending on the size,
sector, and location of the investment. Investment screening
procedures, applicable to both domestic and foreign investors,
are implemented only when an investor requests benefits under
the applicable sector code.
6. Export Subsidies Policies
There are no direct export subsidies. The centerpiece of
export promotion policy is the temporary admission scheme which
allows for suspension of duties and licensing requirements on
imported inputs for export production, including energy. This
scheme has been extended to include indirect exporters (local
suppliers to exporters). In addition, a "prior export" program
exists, whereby exporters can claim a refund on duties paid on
imports which were subsequently transformed and exported.
Export credits are rediscounted by the central bank at a
preferential rate currently fixed at 8 percent. This rate
applies only to amounts exceeding a minimum required holding of
5 percent of bank's deposits. The Government maintains an
export industry investment code which provides up to five
years' tax holiday on 50 percent of profits for qualified
Moroccan and foreign investors. Morocco is not a signatory of
the GATT subsidies code.
7. Protection of U.S. Intellectual Property
Morocco is a member of the World Intellectual Property
Organization (WIPO) and is party to the following conventions:
Copyright - Bern, Universal, and Brussels Satellite; Industrial
Property - Paris Union, Madrid Agreements on source and
registration of trademarks, the Nice Agreement on trademark
classification, and the Hague Agreement on industrial design.
Computer software is not specifically covered by Morocco's
Patents: Morocco has a relatively complete regulatory and
legislative system for the protection of intellectual
property. A quirk dating from the era of the French and
Spanish Protectorates requires patent applications for
industrial property to be filed in both Casablanca and Tangier
for complete protection.
Trademarks: Counterfeiting of clothing, luggage, and other
consumer goods is not uncommon. However, anti-counterfeiting
measures have been increasingly enforced, with prosecutions
being covered by the press. Counterfeiting is primarily for
local consumption and sale to tourists rather than for export.
Trademarks must also be filed in both Casablanca and Tangier.
8. Workers Rights
a. Right Of Association
Workers are free to form and join unions throughout the
country. The right is exercised widely but not universally.
Probably five percent of Morocco's 9 million workers are
unionized, mostly in the public sector. The selection of union
officers and the carrying out of their duties are sometimes
subject to government pressure. Workers have the right to
strike and do so. Most work stoppages are intended to
advertise grievances and last 24 hours or less.
b. Right To Organize And Bargain Collectively
While the protection of the right to organize and bargain
collectively exists in the constitution and labor law, the
government does not always enforce the protections fully. Laws
protecting collective bargaining are not highly developed,
although an implied right is exercised. The multiplicity of
trade union federations creates competition to organize
workers. A single factory may contain several independent
locals. Labor laws are observed most often in the corporate
and parastatal sectors of the economy. In the informal
economy, labor regulations are routinely ignored. As a
practical matter, the unions in Morocco have no judicial
recourse to oblige the government to act when it has not met
its obligations under the law.
c. Prohibition Of Forced Or Compulsory Labor
Forced or compulsory labor is not practiced in Morocco.
d. Minimum Age For Employment Of Children
Children may not be legally employed or apprenticed before
age 12. Special regulations govern the employment of children
between the ages of 12 and 16. In practice, children are often
apprenticed before age 12, particularly in handicraft work.
The use of minors is common in the rug-making and tanning
industries. Children are also employed informally as domestics
and usually receive little or no wages. Child labor laws are
generally well-observed in the industrialized, unionized sector
of the economy.
e. Acceptable Conditions Of Work
There was no change in 1993 to the minimum wage of 1350
dirhams per month (about $150). The minimum wage is not
enforced effectively in the informal sector of the economy. It
is enforced fairly effectively throughout the industrialized,
unionized sector where most workers, except for those employed
in garment assembly, earn more than minimum wage. Moreover,
workers are customarily paid between 13 and 16 months' salary
for every 12-month year. The law provides a 48-hour maximum
work week, with not more than 10 hours for any single day,
premium pay for overtime, paid public and annual holidays, and
minimum conditions for health and safety, including the
prohibition of night work for women and minors. As with other
regulations and laws, these are observed unevenly, if at all,
in the informal sector.
f. Rights In Sectors With U.S. Investment
Worker rights in sectors with U.S. investment do not differ
from those described above in the formal, industrial sector of
the Moroccan economy.
Extent of U.S. Investment in Selected Industries
U.S. Direct Investment Position Abroad
on an Historical Cost Basis - 1992
(millions of U.S. dollars)
Total Manufacturing D
Food & Kindred Products 25
Chemicals and Allied Products 8
Metals, Primary & Fabricated D
Machinery, except Electrical D
Electric & Electronic Equipment 0
Transportation Equipment 0
Other Manufacturing D
Wholesale Trade 0
Finance and Insurance 0
Other Industries 0
TOTAL ALL INDUSTRIES 76
(D)-Suppressed to avoid disclosing data of individual companies
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic
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