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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Morocco may trim 2011 growth forecast

Morocco's tourism receipts are expected to defy the Argana bombing, which killed 16 people, with the help of sovereign wealth funds from Gulf states

Reuters , Thursday 26 May 2011
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Morocco may slightly reduce its growth forecasts for 2011 once the impact of broader unrest in the Arab world and the recent bomb attack in Marrakesh becomes clear, its trade minister told Reuters on Thursday.

The North African kingdom, which has so far been spared the massive uprisings that toppled regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, is currently targeting economic growth of 5 percent this year and a slight fall in the jobless rate to 8 percent.

"These numbers could be revised down but I don't think they will be revised by a lot," Trade and Industry Minister Ahmed Reda Chami said in an interview on the sidelines of an investment conference in La Baule.

"We haven't sized yet the impact of what happened in Argana (the cafe hit by a bomb attack last month) on tourism and we have not sized yet what will be the impact of lower foreign direct investment."

Morocco's tourism receipts are expected to defy the Argana bombing, which killed 16 people, with the help of sovereign wealth funds from Gulf states.

Although international investors are skittish about investing in Morocco because of broader regional unrest, Chami said the impact on investment was likely to be milder than in other Arab countries.

"Morocco is different ... Tunisia and Egypt didn't have spaces of freedom. We have spaces of freedom," he said.

Morocco is officially a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament but the king retains key powers such as the ability to impose a state of emergency or dissolve parliament.

Emboldened by pro-democracy pressures sweeping the Arab world, thousands of Moroccans protested for constitutional reform and an independent judiciary earlier this year.

King Mohamed VI responded with a constitutional reform plan, which will be finalised in June and put to a referendum in July.

If the final text is in line with the king's speech, it will keep Morocco attractive in foreign investors' eyes, Chami said.

"When the Arab revolutions happened, I was concerned ... I thought these guys are going to have new constitutions and they are going to make a leap forward, and we will not be 'first in class' (for investment climate)", he said.

"But when the king spoke ... We felt again that we could be first in class."

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