RABAT – Morocco’s trade deficit widened 10.1 percent to 137.9 billion dirhams ($14.7 billion) in the first eight months of 2018 compared with the same period last year, the foreign exchange regulator said on Friday.
Imports grew 10.2 percent, outstripping a 10.2 increase in exports, the data showed.
With no oil of its own, Morocco’s energy imports surged 18.8 percent while equipment imports grew 12.5 percent. Finished goods rose 6.6 percent.
Exports in the automotive sector rose 17.7 percent. The north African country is home to production plants of French carmakers Renault and PSA group.
Sales of phosphates and by-products such as fertilisers jumped 17.6 percent, while agricultural exports were up 4.6 percent.
The deepening of the trade deficit weighed on Morocco’s exchange reserves which dropped 3.6 percent year-on-year to 225.8 billion dirhams as of Sept 7, according to central bank data.
Tourism receipts, one of the main sources of foreign exchange reserves, grew 1.2 percent to 48.58 billion dirhams in January August compared with the same period last year, while remittances from Moroccans living abroad rose 1 percent to 44.875 billion.
Since the launch in January of a more flexible foreign exchange system, Morocco has kept its currency stable thanks in part to the steady flow of hard currency by some 5 million Moroccans living abroad and tourists but bankers consider that the country has to do more to encourage foreign investors.
Foreign direct investments plummeted by 18.6 percent to 14.6 billion dirhams in the first eight months this year, the foreign exchange regulator data showed.
(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Gareth Jones and Hugh Lawson) (([email protected];))