The kingdom of Morocco is located in the northwestern part of the African continent and is bordered by Algeria and Western Sahara. Furthermore, both the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea border on Morocco. The territory covers 446,550 km² and has more than 35 million inhabitants. By population, Morocco is the eleventh largest country in Africa, immediately after Uganda. Around 3.5 million people live in the Casablanca economic center. Other important Moroccan cities are the capital Rabat, Fez and Tangier.
|110 billion USD|
|Arabic Berber and French|
|Moroccan Dirham (1 EUR = 10.6990 MAD)|
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy led by King Mohammed VI. The king has far-reaching executive and legislative powers. The political system can currently be described as a liberalized autocracy. There are numerous parties that fall under the control of the king. However, the people’s representatives do have control over government policy. The king is therefore regarded by the constitution as the ultimate representative of the country.
Apart from these limitations, the political situation in the country is fairly stable. This is partly due to the fact that the king is popular with the majority of the population. Due to the threat of Islamic extremism, internal security is a priority for the government. The government is making every effort to prevent this from happening in order to avoid negative consequences for tourism.
The Moroccan economy is the fifth largest economy in Africa. Since the rise of King Mohammed VI in 1999, various reforms have marked the Moroccan economy with steady growth, low inflation and gradually falling unemployment. Only poor harvests and European difficulties led to lower growth. Major investments and an anti-cyclical policy after the crisis in 2008 make Morocco stronger today than before. Important sectors include agriculture, tourism, textiles and the automotive sector.
The economy has continued to grow on a fairly constant basis in recent years. Since 2000, GDP per person has increased by 70%. The IMF expects that Moroccan GDP will continue to grow constantly in the coming years, with a percentage of around 4% per year. Due to the continuing growth, a larger middle class has also emerged.
A number of important developments are expected to support economic growth in the upcoming years. A rapidly improving business environment and infrastructure base, the gradual liberalization of the local currency and increased investment in export-oriented industries are all intended to raise living standards and stimulate the emergence of a large national middle class.
Foreign Policy and Trade Relations
Morocco tries to stimulate its open economy by entering into international relations. Over the years, various trade agreements have been drawn up with various countries. In the 1990s, several bilateral and multilateral trade agreements were concluded under the rule of Mohammed VI. In 1996, for example, Morocco concluded a free trade agreement with the European Union, their most important trading partner. In 2017, 60% of Moroccan trade was with the EU and 57% of Moroccan imports came from the EU.
In 1998 Morocco became a member of the Great Arab Free Trade Zone. To date, this consists of 18 countries and includes various agreements on mutual customs tariffs.
The Agadir Agreement from 2001 is a free trade agreement between Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia and became active in 2006. In addition to the underlying free trade zone, the pact also describes the pursuit of industrial and economic complementarity between the participating countries and an increasing export to the EU.
In 2018, the Continental African Free Trade Zone (AfCFTA) was created. This pact, signed by more than 40 African heads of state, opens the way to a free trade zone that could include 1.2 billion people. An agreement was reached that relates to both goods and services. AfCFTA should ultimately lead to a customs union with free movement of capital and business travelers. This would therefore benefit inter-African trade.
Morocco – Belgium
In 2018, total Flemish exports to Morocco amounted to € 869.53 million, which is an increase of 13% compared to the year 2017. This result puts Morocco in 43rd place in the ranking of total exports of goods. Exports to Morocco are increasing in the short term. For example, exports in 2019 are 5% higher compared to the same period in 2018.
For all of Belgium, exports to Morocco in 2018 amounted to € 953.09 million. This was a 12% increase compared to exports in 2017.
The most important Flemish export products to Morocco in 2018 were: copper (products) (19.4%), machinery and mechanics (10.1%), road transport equipment (9.4%), electrical and electronic equipment and components (8, 4%), plastics (7.3%), mineral fuels and petroleum products (6%), organic chemistry (5.9%), pharmaceuticals (3.7%), iron and steel (2.5%), iron and steel and steel products (2.1%).
An overview of the different categories is shown in figure 1.
Figure 1: Flemish export to Morocco in 2018 (Source: Flanders investment and trade http://www.flandersinvestmentandtrade.com/export/)
In 2018, total Flemish imports from Morocco amounted to € 288.99 million, which corresponds to an increase of 12% compared to the year 2017. Morocco thus achieved a 66th place in the ranking for suppliers of Flanders, corresponding to a provision of 0.091% of total Flemish imports. 1.17% of Morocco’s total exports are imported by Flanders. From data from 2019 up to and including April shows that imports were 29% higher than in the same period last year.
For Belgium as a whole, imports in 2018 accounted for € 340 million. This was also an increase compared to 2017 and this by 2.29%.
The most important Flemish import products from Morocco in 2018 were: inorganic chemistry (36.9%), other base metals (7.8%), fruit (7.3%), clothing and accessories (non-knitwear) (6%), electrical and electronic equipment and components (5.4%), fertilizers (3.6%), fruit and vegetable preparations (3.5%), building materials and additives, building glass (3.1%), live animals (2 , 7%) and ores (2.2%).
Figure 2: Flemish import from Morocco in 2018 (Source: Flanders investment and trade http://www.flandersinvestmentandtrade.com/export/)
These are the sectors that will be increasingly important to Morocco in the future:
Waste processing –Household waste is one of the biggest environmental problems in Morocco and is estimated at 0.5% of GDP. Every year the inhabitants produce 7 million tons of household waste, a number that increases by approximately 1% annually. A restructuring of the waste processing sector was therefore necessary. The legal framework was strengthened and new waste management programs were implemented. Opportunities in this sector can mainly be found in recycling, as well as in collection and processing in rural areas.
Automobile industry – Morocco is the second largest car producer in Africa with a market share of 35%. With a share of 22%, this sector is the most important export sector. The departments with the greatest importance are cabling and assembly as well as the emerging ecosystems. In addition to supplying the existing factories, these ecosystems also serve as a sourcing market for the Mediterranean. The growth of this sector is expected to attract foreign actors.
Construction & Infrastructure – This sector accounts for 6% of Moroccan GDP and 9% of the Moroccan population is employed there. In 2014 this sector managed to stabilize again and growth was observed. The budgets released are mainly invested in road, rail, port and airport projects. Many building projects are being developed to meet the increasing demand for homes and tourist accommodation.
Renewable energy – Due to the growing economy and population, energy consumption in the country is also increasing. By 2020, the country wants to achieve a 42% share of renewable energy and continue this trend. In the renewable energy sector, Morocco is certainly one of the most mature countries.
Transport and logistics – This sector accounts for 5% of Morocco’s GDP, is necessary for the dynamics of the country, and supports the integration of Morocco into the world economy. The most used medium in Morocco for domestic trade is road transport with 90% respectively. In the area of foreign trade, the ports are mainly counted on, 95% of foreign trade entering or leaving the country via the ports. In recent years, huge investments have also been made in the further expansion and design of the ports and other means of transport. Thanks to the favorable business climate, political and economic reforms and simplified administrative procedures, the transport and logistics sectors have become interesting for foreign investment. This is also partly due to the strong strategic location of the country which can perfectly serve as a logistics hub.
Food – This is a strategic sector for the Moroccan economy, with annual growth of around 4% and accounting for 19% of GDP. The growth of the sector is due to the growing middle class and the increase in the number of tourists. The country has a strong fishing and agricultural industry. They are, however, highly dependent on the weather and therefore remain largely dependent on imports in order to meet nutritional needs.
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Sources: FIT, Worldbank, Doing Business 2018, Atradius, OEC, export.gov, UNCTAD