Over the past several decades, Morocco has relied more and more on imports, and has maintained a steady trade balance as a result. The value of imports in 1999 was estimated US$12.2 billion, but exports were estimated to be only US$7.6 billion in 2000. Capital goods (industrial and semi-finished products) account for well more than half of Morocco's imports, followed by food and beverages, consumer goods , and fuel. Morocco's export base is diversified, with phosphates and phosphate byproducts being the largest contributor, accounting for one-third of exports. Textiles and leather items come in second place, followed by fish and fish products.
Morocco exports and imports most of its goods from the European Union, with France being its largest trade partner, providing one-fifth of total imports and accounting for one-quarter of exports. Spain comes in second place, followed by the United States, Italy, and Saudi Arabia. Morocco initialed a free-trade accord with the European Free Trade Association in 1997, which stipulates the elimination of trade barriers in industrial goods by 2010.
The substantial and growing trade imbalance that Morocco endured over the years has been partially offset by tourist receipts and remittances sent home by Moroccans working abroad. Morocco is a member of the World Trade Organization, which has stipulated that tariffs on goods be lifted. The government has moved to gradually reform the trade sector and remove barriers to export by approving a new foreign trade law that minimizes the state's role in the export of goods and that liberalizes import practices. The government's dependence on tariffs largely explains its reluctance to proceed with the implementation of trade reform. As a result, Morocco continues to run a trade deficit that forces it to borrow heavily to pay for its consumption.
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Morocco|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
|Exchange rates: Morocco|
|Moroccan dirhams per US$1|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|