Investment Climate in Morocco

Economy

Morocco’s  economic growth slowed down to 1.5% in 2016 when compared with  4.2 percent achieved  in 2015 as a result of  12.1 percent contraction in agricultural production coupled with sluggish growth of  around 2.5 percent of non-agricultural sectors. Agricultural GDP is projected to contract by 9.5 percent in 2016 before rebounding by 8.9 percent in 2017. Non-agricultural GDP growth is expected to be around 3 percent in the absence of more decisive structural reforms. In line with the government’s commitment, the fiscal deficit will be reduced to 3 percent of GDP in 2017. Inflation has remained below 2 percent as a result government’s prudent monetary policy and the fall in international commodity prices. Morocco’s fiscal deficit has been on a downward trend and the external current account has improved significantly. Based on performance since the beginning of 2016, Morocco is expected to reduce its fiscal deficit to 3.5 percent of GDP in 2016. However this will depend on how government controls expenditure especially that to public enterprises. Morocco should be able to stabilize the central government debt at around 64 percent of GDP.  Overall, Morocco’s international reserves continued to increase and reached US$24.9 billion or the equivalent of 7.3 months of imports at end-June 2016.

Why invest in Morocco?

  • The cost of production is quite low in Morocco;
  • Availability of quality human resources;
  • Good infrastructure support in terms of roads , railway, airports and ports;
  • Strategic location due to its proximity to Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas and
  • Recent reforms to improve the business climate
  • Strong and stable macroeconomic performances
  • Free trade access to one billion consumers

Political

Morocco is a Muslim country that follows Islamic laws and customs and is under the rule of a constitutional Monarch with an elected parliament. The ultimate authority rests with king who presides over the Council of ministers and appoints or approves members of the government. The king may dismiss ministers, dissolve parliament, call for new elections, and rule by decree.

Population

The population of Morocco reached 33.8 inhabitants in 2014, according to preliminary results of the census issued by the Moroccan High Commission for Planning. The population’s growth rate that continues to decline has been only 1.25% per year over the last 10 years.

Urbanisation

According to World Bank the urban population of Morocco is estimated at 21 million people in 2015.  The urbanisation rate is estimated at 1% per year.

Doing business in Morocco

The highlights of World Bank score of doing business in Morocco is summarised as follows;

Topics World Bank  2017 Rank World Bank 2016 Rank Change in Rank
Overall 68 68
Starting a Business 40 40
Dealing with Construction Permits 18 18
Getting Electricity 57 55 -2
Registering Property 87 92  

5

Getting Credit 101 109 8
Protecting Minority Investors 87 118 31
Paying Taxes 41 37 -4
Trading across Borders 63 68 5
Enforcing Contracts 57 58  

-1

Resolving Insolvency 130 130

The overall raking has remained constant although a lot of improvements have been noted in a number of areas.

Credit Rating

Standard & Poor’s credit rating for Morocco stands at BBB- with stable outlook. Moody’s credit rating for Morocco was last set at Ba1 with positive outlook. Fitch’s credit rating for Morocco was last reported at BBB- with stable outlook.  

Remittances

Morocco maintains a system of foreign exchange controls managed by the Foreign Exchange Office (Office des Changes), but the rules on transfers have been progressively liberalized to the point where the dirham is freely convertible according to the IMF definition for current account transactions. The value of the dirham is tied to a basket of hard currencies weighted according to Morocco’s foreign trade.  Authority to buy and sell foreign exchange has been delegated to the banking system that carries out transactions on presentation of appropriate documentation justifying the transaction such as an invoice to pay for imports. Capital transactions require authorization from the Foreign Exchange Office and are routinely granted for business-related transactions.

Arbitration

The arbitration in Morocco is governed by law n° 08-05 relating to arbitration and conventional mediation promulgated by virtue of Dahir 1-07-169 (November 30th, 2007); and Bulletin Officiel n° 5584 of December 6th, 2007.

Morocco is signatory to the New York Convention with the choice of a reciprocity reservation as provided under Article 1, paragraph 3 of the 1958 Convention. Morocco has been a party to the ICSID Washington Convention 1965 since June 10th, 1967. In addition Morocco has entered into around 40 bilateral investment treaties with multiple states in all of the five continents and most of them contain institutional arbitration dispute resolution. Morocco has also in place the International Chamber of Commerce as a local domestic arbitration institution.

Key development challenges

  • Tackling deep inequalities in terms of gender, geography, education and access to basic services that can undermine the inclusive nature of its growth.
  • Land degradation resulting from many factors
  • The country suffers from high unemployment, poverty, and illiteracy, particularly in rural areas.
  • Carrying the necessary reforms in the education system and the judiciary that will support the development effort of the country.

Corruption Perception Index

Morocco is ranked number 90 out of 176 countries that participated corruption perception index by Transparent International. It got a score of 37 points.

Security

Morocco maintains stable security, however visitors travelling within the country should follow travel advice from reliable sources.

Unemployment and skilled labour

The overall unemployment rate was around 9 percent in 2016 compared 10.1% in 2015. However the rate among urban youth reached 38.8 percent in June 2016.

Attitude to Foreign Direct Investment

Morocco encourages foreign investment through Morocco Investment Development Agency and has sought to facilitate FD1 through macro-economic policies, trade liberalization, structural reforms, as well as investments in infrastructure and incentives for investors. The country operates a one-stop shop that facilities investors in Morocco.  Morocco works to position itself as a gateway to Africa that has attracted multinational companies to relocate their regional headquarters to Morocco. In 2012, Morocco became the first Middle East and North Africa partner to endorse the Joint Principles for International Investment and the Joint Principles for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Services, sending a strong signal to domestic and international investors that Morocco embraces an open 21st century approach to investment and growth.

Restrictions on Foreign investment

Under the Moroccan investment code, the government guarantees foreign investors’ repatriation of both invested capital and profits, provided that the initial capital investment was filed and registered. However

Morocco places a 49% cap on foreign investment in air and maritime transport companies and maritime fisheries. Moreover, foreigners are prohibited from owning agricultural land, though they can lease it for up to 99 years. The Moroccan Government holds a monopoly on phosphate extraction through the 95% state-owned Office Chérifien des Phosphates. Morocco has also reserved a discretionary right to limit all foreign majority stakes in the capital of large national banks, but does not appear to have exercised that right. Moreover, the Moroccan central bank or Bank Al Maghrib may use regulatory discretion in issuing authorization for the establishment of domestic and foreign-owned banks.

Intellectual Property (IP) Rights

There is protection of IP rights but it is the responsibility of the rights’ holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights in accordance to the existing legal framework.

Natural Resources

The country is blessed with natural resources that include phosphates, iron ore, manganese, zinc, salt, copper, fish and lead among others.

Information on the investment climate in Morocco includes the following;

Sources of information

http://www.worldbank.org

www.export.gov

www.afdb.org/

www.invest.gov.ma

http://www.animaweb.org/en/pays_maroc_en.php

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