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Faced with crisis, Morocco goes on the offensive



Spared financial turbulence, Morocco has instead suffered the effects of the crisis in property, tourism and export sectors of the economy.



Medina, the Bay of Tangiers (Photo: Christelle Marot)
Medina, the Bay of Tangiers (Photo: Christelle Marot)
MOROCCO. With little exposure to international capital markets, Morocco came through the financial crisis relatively unscathed. The main banking groups in the country,  Attijariwafa Bank,  BMCE Bank  and Banque Populaire, continued to post good results and accelerated their expansion in Africa.
On the other hand, the kingdom suffered the after-effects of the crisis in property and tourism, with a sharp fall in foreign direct investment (FDI). In tourism, FDI fell 54% in 2008 and 45.7% in 2009. 

Overall, FDI flows, most of which come from France, Spain and United Arab Emirates, fell for two-and-a-half years in succession: -26% in 2008, -27% in 2009 and -20% in the first half of 2010. 

As well as businesses, the crisis has affected export sectors of the economy, such as textiles, car subcontracting and electronics. 

A number of foreign operators have withdrawn from Morocco: Nissan   from the car production complex in Tangiers, Thomas & Piron   from its hotel projects in and Essaouira, Telefonica  and Portugal Telecom  from the Méditel  group, etc. 

However, faced with the withdrawal of large international groups, Morocco has continued with projects thanks to the driving force provided by the Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion   (CDG).

In particular, the CDG has acquired a 48% shareholding in Renault Tanger Med.

Anti-crisis strategy

"The approach and method of operation used in Morocco remain the same. We are in the process of implementing major strategic plans, Azur, Emergence, Halieutis, etc. The first step is an objective analysis of the situation, followed by the implementation of a strategic plan with set objectives, a road map, benchmark stages. With the crisis, this has been confirmed", says Dominique Brunin, director of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Morocco    (CFCIM). 

A strategic oversight committee established by Morocco has analysed the repercussions of the crisis and proposed emergency measures. These include Cap 2009, a project with a budget of €10m to boost the tourism sector. 

An anti-crisis plan worth 1.3bn MAD (around €115m) was also announced in early 2009 to support export businesses. In particular, this plan ensures that the State will cover social contributions, provides commercial support to exports and provides a government guarantee to finance their working capital requirements. 

To encourage investment by Moroccans living overseas (MRE), an important source of foreign currency, the fund MDM Invest was established in the summer of 2009. This mechanism provides for a government subsidy of 10% and the extension of a loan for up to 65% for investments of at least one million dirhams. 

Against this backdrop of crisis, Morocco has shown great courage, devising new opportunities for job creation: the Place Financière de Casablanca, a major solar energy project and the creation of specialist logistics platforms across the whole country, Plan Maroc Numeric. 

Supported by solid domestic demand, the country recorded a growth rate of 5.6% in 2008. In 2009, the exceptional harvest resulted in growth of 5.3%. In 2010, the economy is expected to grow 4%. 

"Today, the Moroccan textiles sector is undergoing a major overhaul", says Dominique Brunin. "Newplayers have taken up the reins. Some companies in the Casablanca region have full order books." 

"Thanks to orders from Spanish customers, we will have a high profile for three to four years", says Omar Moro, president of the Tangiers Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services. 

For FDI it is full steam ahead while improvements are being made to investor protection, according to the latest Doing Business report. 

"We are at the bottom of the curve", confirms Fathallah Sijilmassi, the director of the Moroccan Investment Development Agency    (AMDI). 

Weaknesses? "They do exist. These are payment times, the functioning of the justice system, the acquisition of land", acknowledges Dominique Brunin. 

Thus, prospects are good. Crisis or no crisis, Morocco has a trend growth rate of 4-5%. 

For 2011, the Haut Commissariat au Plan    (HCP) has forecast growth of 4.3%.
 


Christelle Marot, à CASABLANCA


Monday, October 15th 2012



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