Morocco’s trade deficit jumped 21 per cent in January-July from a year ago, setting a record for the period of 106.4 billion dirhams ($13.3 billion) due mainly to higher spending on energy imports, according to official data.Tourism receipts over the same period rose 8.5 per cent to 33.1 billion dirhams and migrant remittances climbed 8.2 per cent to 33.3 billion dirhams, data from the foreign exchange regulator, Office des Changes, showed.Morocco’s currency is not fully convertible and any growth in tourism and remittances helps mitigate any destabilising impact on the banking system from a net outflow of foreign exchange caused by the surge in the trade deficit.Private foreign loans and investment stood at 12.7 billion dirhams by end-July, down 14 per cent from a year earlier. The trade deficit stood at 88 billion dirhams in January-July, 2010.The trade deficit figure covers only exports and imports of goods. A surplus generated by exports of services absorbed 34.5 per cent of the country’s trade deficit in goods in the first half of 2011. The country of almost 33 million people has no oil or gas of its own and is one of the world’s top grain buyers.Overall imports rose 20 per cent to 205.6 billion dirhams after the energy import bill rose 39 per cent to 51.9 billion dirhams and imports of wheat, maize and sugar rose 88 per cent to a combined 12.86 billion dirhams.Average prices of crude oil and wheat rose respectively 32 and 65 per cent compared with the January-July period of last year.Morocco spent 17 billion dirhams on 2.74 million tonnes of crude oil and 7 billion dirhams on 2.31 million tonnes of wheat in the first seven months of 2011.
The state, a major buyer of wheat, is expected to resume wheat imports from as early as September, after a four-month stoppage to allow farmers to collect the local harvest.
Exports of goods rose 19 per cent during the first seven months of 2011 from a year earlier to 99.2 billion dirhams.Exports of phosphate and its by-products netted 26.2 billion dirhams by the end of July, up 36.7 per cent from a year earlier, while they were up by an annual 44.4 per cent in June.
From / Gulf Today