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Morocco’s trade deficit rises 8 pct in 2018

Morocco’s trade deficit rose by 8 percent to 204 billion dirhams ($21.36 billion) compared with a year earlier, the foreign exchange regulator said on Tuesday.

Imports rose 9.3 percent to 478.7 billion Moroccan dirhams, outstripping exports of 274.2 billion dirhams, up 10.2 percent.

The energy import bill surged 18.4 percent to 82.3 billion dirhams.

Exports in the automotive sector totalled 60 billion dirhams, up 10.7 percent as the North African country is home to production plants of French carmakers Renault and PSA group.

Sales of phosphates and byproducts climbed by 17 percent to 51.7 billion dirhams.

Remittances from Moroccans living abroad dropped 1.7 percent to 64.8 billion dirhams, while tourism receipts grew 1.4 percent to 73.2 billion dirhams.

Foreign direct investments rose 28.6 percent to 33.5 billion dirhams.

The deepening trade deficit was felt on Morocco’s foreign exchange reserves, which dropped 5.2 percent year on year to 229 billion dirhams as of Jan. 9 – enough to cover five months of import needs – according to central bank data.

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