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Phosphates help Morocco contain trade gap

Though a higher crude oil and grain import bills, phosphate exports revenues reduce Morocco's annual trade deficit

Reuters, Monday 3 Jan 2011
Phosphate 1
Morocco sits on nearly half global phosphate reserves. (Photo: Reuters)
Views: 3516
Views: 3516

Higher revenues from the exports of phosphate and its by-products helped Morocco slow the annual rise in its trade deficit by end-November despite higher crude oil and grain import bills.

The trade deficit in the 11 months to end-November stood at 138.2 billion dirhams ($16.5 billion), an increase of 2.3 per cent over the year-earlier period, data from government-run Office des Changes showed on Monday.

The annual increase in the trade deficit stood at 2.6 per cent by end-October.

Morocco is the only North African country that has no oil or gas of its own but it sits on nearly half global phosphate reserves, including deposits in the disputed Western Sahara, and contributes around a third of global phosphate exports.

Exports of phosphate and its by-products generated 32.1 billion dirhams ($3.8 billion) in the 11 months to end-November, 2010, an 88 per cent increase over the year-earlier period. Exports in volumes rose by close to 64 per cent at some 14.73 million tonnes, the data showed.

Garments and textile, the second export earner, meanwhile generated 22.2 billion dirhams ($2.6 billion) over the same period, which is 3.1 per cent below the same period in 2009.

Exports as a whole rose 26.7 per cent in value to 132.1 billion dirhams ($15.5 billion) while imports rose 12.9 per cent at 270.3 billion dirhams ($32.2 billion).

The rise in imports stemmed mainly from 33.2 per cent rise in the energy import bill which stood at 64.7 billion dirhams ($7.7 billion) by end-November: Crude oil imports rose 51 per cent in value at 22.1 billion dirhams ($2.6 billion) for a 11.5 per cent rise in volume at 4.67 million tonnes.

The average cost of a tonne of imported crude oil rose 35.5 per cent by the end of November to 4,733 dirhams ($565.7), data showed.

After a near 27-per cent drop in the country's latest cereals harvest, the value of wheat and maize imports rose 24 per cent to 9.6 billion dirhams ($1.1 billion) after a 21 per cent rise in their combined volume at 4.6 million tonnes.

In September, the government raised its forecast for 2010 economic growth this year to 4.1 per cent from a 3.5 per cent growth expected earlier mainly because of a rebound in exports.

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