Phosphate processing dominates the heavy industry, with the production of phosphoric acid and fertilizers, among others. Other significant industries are oil refining and chemical industry, cement production, textile industry and iron and steel manufacturing.
Unlike many poor countries, Morocco is not unilaterally dependent on an export commodity. Most importantly, clothing and textiles account for one third of the export value. About a fifth consist of food, including fish, and then come the products of the phosphate industry.
The phosphate industry managed by the state-owned company OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates) is concentrated in the city of Safi. Otherwise, Morocco’s major industries are mainly around the country’s financial center Casablanca, as well as around Rabat, Fès and Marrakech. Outside of Tangier, many companies invest in two economic free zones. However, Morocco is dominated by small and medium-sized companies that cover everything from traditional crafts to the modern electronics industry.
Thanks to Morocco’s geographical location close to Europe and the liberalization of the economy, more foreign companies are expected to move production there. New investments include manufacturing of parts for the aviation industry. Both French car manufacturers Peugeot and Renault have factories in Morocco, and Chinese electric car manufacturer BYD (“Build Your Dreams”) is planning a plant for the production of electric vehicles.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Morocco. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
An extensive investment in the 2000s on new roads, highways, ports, tourist facilities and subsidized housing for the slums of big cities has led to a strong upswing for the building products and the construction industry. The government has promised to subsidize housing prices in the hope of reducing overcrowding in the big cities. In practice, many have found it difficult to pay for newly built housing, and the Government promised in 2017 that 800,000 affordable housing would be built over the next five-year period.
The EU countries are the most important trading partner, with over two thirds of exports going to the EU.Important trade agreements were concluded with the EU in 2000 and 2008. Talks on deepened trade relations have continued after that. A free trade agreement was concluded with the US in 2006, it was the first in the US with an African state and has greatly increased trade between the countries.
Free trade agreements exist with Turkey and several Arab countries. Morocco also participated when 44 African states signed a new free trade agreement, AFCFTA, 2018. The agreement must be ratified at national level in the member states before it can enter into force but is seen by many as an important step towards increased trade exchange within Africa.
Prison threatens contagion
During the month that has passed since the first restrictions on the spread of infection, 28,700 people have been arrested and more than 15,000 of them will be tried in court, the security service announces DGSN (National Board of National Security). Anyone who defies the infection protection rules risks up to three months in prison and a fine. Especially in the big cities Casablanca and Rabat people have been arrested. A total of 130 deaths in covid-19 have been confirmed.
Thousands of prisoners receive mercy
Against the background of the corona pandemic, the king grants about 5,600 prisoners to reduce the congestion in Morocco’s prisons. Those covered by the grace decision will be released in stages.
Support money against the corona crisis
The EU pledges EUR 450 million to Morocco to support the effects of the corona pandemic. 150 million will be paid out immediately to a fund set up specifically for this purpose. From the US came the day before a promise of $ 670,000, which will go to test equipment and infection tracking, among other things. The Moroccan government, for its part, has promised emergency support to families in scarce circumstances, who will receive amounts equivalent to around a thousand dollars each in Swedish money. That support comes from a $ 3.2 billion state-of-the-art crisis package, which is also based on corporate and private donations. It is unclear whether people living in the country’s informal sector (the “gray” economy) will be able to receive the grant.
Malaria drugs are tested against covid-19
24th of March
The research community hopes that drugs for malaria will relieve covid-19 disease. It will be tried in Morocco, where the French pharmaceutical group Sanofi’s subsidiary has been ordered to give up the anti-malarial drugs the company has in stock. A handful of deaths have been confirmed in Morocco.
State of emergency against virus crisis
The state of emergency comes into effect, based on the spread of the new coronavirus that humans do not have resistance to. In Morocco, four deaths have been confirmed. Army personnel are deployed on the streets to prevent protests or other unauthorized actions, such as people searching for mosques to pray even though the government has urged citizens to practice prayer times in the home.
Drastic measures against coronary infection
the 13th of March
To prevent the spread of coronavirus, all mosques, schools, restaurants and international air traffic are closed. Several people are arrested in the aftermath of the decisions for airing criticism against them. One of them is the Salafist preacher Abu Naim, who claims that the closing of shrines entails apostasy, waste of religion. Another is a woman who claims via social media that the disease covid-19 does not exist. The government is also preparing a law that can be used against social media when posts are considered to spread false information and panic.
Criticism of freedom of speech
Students, artists, bloggers and grassroots journalists are at high risk of reprisals when they make use of their freedom of speech and criticism, human rights organizations say. Human Rights Watch and the Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH in French abbreviation) require at least ten activists arrested in the last five months to be released. Accusations may be that they offended the king, civil servants or public institutions. According to the organizations, courts use the penal code rather than the country’s media law to convict regime critics to prison (see December 26, 2019).
Record number of tourists 2019
Morocco received a record number of tourists in 2019: 13 million, official statistics show. This represents an increase of 5.2 percent compared to the previous year. About half are foreign Moroccans who greet at home. Especially travelers from France and Spain are increasing. Two destinations, world-class Marrakech inland and Agadir on the Atlantic coast, had 57 percent of hotel nights. Tourism accounts for about a tenth of the country’s gross domestic product and is one of the main sources of foreign currency inflows.
Claims on Western Sahara are being expanded
Morocco claims the territorial waters off Western Sahara, which has been under Moroccan occupation since the 1970s. The Rabat Parliament unanimously adopts two laws with the meaning that the waters of the Atlantic from Tangier in the north down to the border with Mauritania in the south should belong to Morocco. This means that the claims also cover the sea area outside Western Sahara, with a coastline of about 100 km. The liberation movement Polisario, which represents the people of Western Sahara and opposes Morocco’s demands on land and at sea, threatens to bring the matter to the United Nations International Court of Justice for Maritime Law. According to the Sahrawis, Morocco engages in looting, including through its Atlantic fishing (see February 12, 2019).
Jewish cultural heritage is highlighted
The King of Morocco and UN UN representative represent a newly-built memorial house on the Jewish history of the coastal city of Essaouira. The museum is set up in an old private house and will also become a research center. At the end of the 1940s, a quarter of a million Jews lived in Morocco, about a tenth of the country’s population. When the modern state of Israel was founded, most emigrated there. Essaouira, where there should once have been 37 synagogues, has flourished as a tourist destination in recent years. In the large city of Casablanca there is a Jewish museum since 1997, another is under construction in the historic city of Fès.