Morocco GDP growth picks up in 3rd quarter 2011

Reuters, Monday 2 Jan 2012

Economy still below full-year target following a slowdown in its key mining and tourism sectors, says planning authority

Tourism contributes to some 8 per cent of the Moroccan economy (Photo: Reuters)


 Morocco's economic growth reached 4.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2011, up from the second but still below the full-year target after a slowdown led by shrinking mining and tourism activity, the country's planning authority said on Monday.

Agricultural output rose 4.1 per cent rise after a flat third quarter of 2010, and non-agricultural GDP rose 4.9 per cent after a 4.6 per cent increase in the third quarter of 2010, the High Planning Authority (HCP) said.

Hotel and restaurant activity dropped 2.6 per cent, the authority said, after a 3.8 per cent drop in the second quarter, which was its worst quarterly performance since the first quarter of 2009.

Tourism contributes close to 10 per cent of Morocco's economy and directly employs 450,000 people.

The July-September period coincided with political turmoil in the region and economic uncertainties in the European Union.

Plagued by social unrest inspired by the Arab Spring revolts, mining clocked a decline of 1.8 per cent in the third quarter after posting a 2.3 per cent growth in the second quarter, far below a 14 per cent rise in the first quarter, 2011.

After growing by 4 per cent to around $95 billion in 2010, Morocco's gross domestic product grew 5 per cent during the first quarter of 2011 and 4.2 per cent in the second, according to the central bank.

The finance ministry forecast 5 per cent growth for all of 2011.

The central bank last month said the Moroccan economy has started to feel the impact of a slowdown in its main export markets in Europe but should still manage growth of 4-5 per cent in 2012, matching a growth estimate for 2011 which it revised down from 4.5-5.5 per cent.

Casablanca-based AttijariWafa Bank said a survey gauging investors' confidence in the last quarter of 2011 showed a "clear market consensus opting for distrust".

"In December, 40 per cent of respondents expressed a sense of distrust regarding the overall prospects of the Moroccan economy against only 15 per cent in September," AttijariWafa said.

The percentage of respondents who expressed confidence in the prospects of the Moroccan economy fell to 31 per cent in December from 52 per cent in September, said AttijariWafa in what it linked mostly to concerns over growing trade and budget deficits.

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