Economy: Morocco, slowdown in economic growth, 6-year low

15 May, 18:41

(ANSAmed) - RABAT, MAY 15 - During the first quarter of 2012, economic growth in Morocco saw a net slowdown, sinking, according to the latest figures issued by the High Planning Commission (HCP), to just 2.2 per cent, the lowest level in six years. GDP growth in the kingdom had stood at 4.9 per cent for the first quarter of 2011, and ended the year at 5.3 per cent.

The estimates issued for the second quarter by the HCP see a slight improvement in the situation, with forecast growth of 2.8 per cent. But it appears that the 4.1 per cent forecast by the February's budget forecast will prove difficult to realise.

The main reason for the slowdown is the 11.7% decrease in added value from agricultural output due to adverse weather conditions. There is a diminution in the yield outlook for most vegetable produce, especially in revenues from cereal crops, with just 48 million quintals now forecast compared with the 70 million of the previous season.

There are also decreases in yields of greens, sugar production and orchard products.

Another explanation for the economic slowdown is slower growth in other activities - with an overall growth rate of 4.3 per cent compared to 5.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2011 and of 5.6 per cent by the end of 2011. A reason for this is the dip in the increment of added value in the secondary sector, estimated at 1.9 per cent compared to 5.7 in the previous quarter, and especially the contraction in demand for fertilizers coming in to the world leading Moroccan phosphate exporter, OCP. Transforming industries, and the textile, engineerin and electronics industries in particular, have not improved on their performances for the first three months of 2011. On the other hand, the ''BTP'' sector (construction and public works) has continued to grow, with confirmation of 22 per cent growth in cement sales compared to 2011. There is also a positive trend in electricity production, with an increase in added value of 8.6 per cent.

There was a dent in the performance of the tertiary sector, too, for the first quarter of the year. Tourism is going through a difficult period: arrivals have decreased by 5 per cent and overnight stays are down by 11 per cent. Transport is tagnating, with a drop in air and sea transport but an increase in transport by rail.

As a report in La Vie Eco points out, the real pillar of growth, internal demand, has slowed a little over the first quarter of 2012. This is probably due to a rise in the rate of unemployment, which now stands at 9.9 per cent - compared to 9.1 per cent for 2011 - which is especially high in urban areas, up by 1.1 %, bringing up to 14.4 per cent. (ANSAmed).

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