Economic and Political Overview

flag Morocco Morocco: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Outline | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response

 

Economic Outline

Economic Overview

In recent years, the Moroccan economy has been characterised by macroeconomic stability and low levels of inflation, relying mostly on exports, a boom in private investment, and tourism. However, the COVID-19 shock has pushed the Moroccan economy into its first recession since 1995. The country’s GDP rebounded in 2021 but showed modest growth in 2022: based on the most recent projections from the IMF, the economy is estimated to have grown by 2.4% in 2023. This growth is fueled by a partial rebound in agricultural output, net exports, and services (particularly tourism). The recovery is anticipated to strengthen in the medium term, with real GDP growth forecasted to reach 3.6% in 2024 and 3.2% in 2025, as domestic demand gradually rebounds from recent shocks. Reconstruction efforts and new policy incentives are set to enhance investment, thereby supporting income and consumption, while the resurgence of agricultural production should contribute to the growth of rural employment.

The fiscal impact of the health and social protection reform and postponement of the liquefied petroleum gas and flour subsidy reform slowed the consolidation of the budget deficit, which was estimated at 5% of GDP in 2023. Modest revenue growth (+0.9% year-on-year through September) has been sustained by increased tax collections. However, government spending has experienced upward pressures (+7.2% year-on-year) due to the impact of the drought on food supply and high inflation. While gas subsidies were lower than budgeted, there were increases in subsidies for food and farmers, along with accelerated investment in water infrastructures (Fitch Ratings). The deficit is expected to decrease over the forecast horizon, to 4.4% this year and 3.8% in 2025 (IMF), with the debt-to-GDP ratio following a similar trend (from 69.7% in 2023 to 68.7% by 2025). After peaking in February, inflation averaged 6.3% in 2023, as energy prices declined and agriculture output improved. The projection indicates a gradual decrease to 3.5% in 2024 (IMF), influenced by reduced energy and food prices and the impact of rising interest rates. Key risks include prolonged droughts affecting agricultural production, a more pronounced slowdown in crucial European markets, and a potential further increase in commodity prices.

Albeit its high levels, the unemployment rate has been declining in recent years and averaged 12% in 2023. For 2024 and 2025, the IMF expects it to decrease to 11.7% and 11.6%, respectively. According to the Moroccan Higher Planning Commission, unemployment particularly affects the youth (15-24 years of age – at 38.2% as of June 2023 – latest data available), recent graduates, and women (19.8% each). The rate of poverty remains one of the highest in the Mediterranean region, with almost one-fifth of the population living near the poverty line. Finally, the GDP per capita (PPP) was estimated at USD 10,408 in 2023 by the IMF.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 130.91147.34157.40166.49175.33
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 1.32.43.63.23.2
GDP per Capita (USD) 3,5703,9804,2124,4154,608
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -5.1-5.0-4.4-3.8-3.5
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 71.569.769.168.768.4
Inflation Rate (%) n/a6.33.52.92.4
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 11.812.011.711.611.6
Current Account (billions USD) -4.62-4.52-5.05-4.79-4.86
Current Account (in % of GDP) -3.5-3.1-3.2-2.9-2.8

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, Latest data available.

Note : (E) Estimated data

 

Main Sectors of Industry

Given the richness of Morocco's soil, the agricultural sector is pivotal for the country’s economy, employing 35% of the workforce and contributing 10.5% of GDP (World Bank, latest data available). Barley, wheat, citrus fruits, grapes, vegetables, argan, olives, livestock and wine are the country's main crops. In recent years, the government has focused on the sector through its "Green Morocco Plan" and the Agricultural Development Fund. The country’s cereal production is highly variable, with local dams providing irrigation for only 15% of the agricultural land and rainfed agricultural production accounting for 85% of the aggregate output (FAO). According to preliminary data by the national statistical office, the added value of the primary sector in volume, adjusted for seasonal variations, recorded an increase of 8.9% in the third quarter of 2023 compared to a decrease of 13.8% during the same period one year earlier, thanks to a rise in agricultural activity by 5.7%, and in fishing by 80.7%. Overall, the agricultural sector recorded a forecasted growth rate of 3% for the 2022-2023 campaign, compared to -14.8% in the previous one, showing significant resilience despite unfavourable weather conditions and cyclical imbalances.

Industry contributes 25.5% of the GDP and employs 23% of the workforce. The main sectors are textiles, leather goods, food processing, oil refining, and electronic assembly. However, new sectors have been booming: chemistry, automotive parts, computers, electronics and the aerospace industry. The automotive industry, in particular, has been growing in the last decade, with double-digit annual growth in terms of job creation and exports (becoming the country’s main exporting sector and Africa’s main automotive hub). Overall, the manufacturing sector is estimated to account for 15% of GDP. The emergence of new industries should allow the country to reduce its dependence on the agricultural sector. Morocco’s industrial sector is the largest beneficiary of foreign direct investment. The country has around 75% of the world's estimated reserves of phosphates, and the mineral sector accounts for almost 30% of exports (Oxford Business Group). Mining accounts for 10% of GDP, of which 90% derives from phosphates. The manufacturing industries' activity experienced a modest increase of 0.6% in 2023, compared to 0.3% the previous year. This development was mainly attributed to the decline in the chemical industry by 4.1%, weakened by the decrease in the production of phosphate fertilizers, and the slowdown in the agro-food and textile industries due to the rise in production costs (National Statistical Office).

The services sector accounts for more than half of GDP (54.5%) and gives employment to 43% of the workforce. It is spearheaded by real estate and tourism, which has been very dynamic in recent years (accounting for around 11% of GDP and hitting a record of nearly 13 million arrivals in 2019). Although tertiary activities recorded a downward trend following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particularly weak tourism performance, improvements were achieved in 2022 and 2023: tourist arrivals in Morocco reached 13.2 million during the first eleven months of 2023, surpassing their pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels. Finally, the Moroccan banking sector is dominated by locally owned banks, which account for more than 80% of industry assets (U.S. Department of Commerce).

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 34.6 22.8 42.6
Value Added (in % of GDP) 10.7 27.2 52.3
Value Added (Annual % Change) -15.3 -0.4 5.3

Source: World Bank, Latest data available.

 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
63,3/100
World Rank:
81
Regional Rank:
9

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 

Business environment ranking

Definition:

The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

Score:
5.48/10
World Rank:
61/82

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2020-2024

 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
King: MOHAMED VI (since 30 July 1999) - hereditary
Prime Minister: Aziz AKHANNOUCH (since 7 October 2021)
Next Election Dates
House of Representatives: 30 September 2026
House of Councillors: 31 October 2027
Current Political Context
King Mohammed VI – who has been ruling the country since 1999 - appointed a new government comprising a coalition of liberal and conservative parties, led by Aziz Akhannouch, after the victory of his National Rally of Independents (RNI) party in the general elections that were held in September 2021, which revealed the collapse of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) that had led the government over the previous two legislative terms (from 125 seats in the assembly to only 13 seats out of 395). A new coalition government was thus formed by the liberal RNI and Authenticity and Modernity (PAM) parties together with the conservative Istiqlal. The three parties together enjoy a comfortable majority, holding 270 seats compared to the 198 needed to pass legislation, with a shared common platform focusing on economic and social reforms. The coalition government published its three-year budget plans as part of the 2023 budget, focusing on employment creation measures and an extension of social programmes while also seeking a reduction of the deficit.
In 2023, despite political stability, the country faced rising discontent over a high unemployment rate and the elevated cost of living due to recurrent droughts impacting harvests. Moreover, an earthquake claimed 3,000 lives and left over 15,000 homeless in the Atlas and Marrakech regions. The government's budget plan prioritized emergency aid, reconstruction, and social-economic development in the affected region.
In 2024, tensions with the Polisario Front and Algeria will persist, centring on the Western Sahara. Israel's recognition of Moroccan sovereignty in July 2023 and Spain's acknowledgement of the autonomy plan in 2022 are contentious decisions. The former is part of an unpopular alignment between the countries, including the United States, on defence matters, although the process could be hindered by the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Main Political Parties
Multi-party system, consisting of numerous parties. Parties work with each other to form coalition governments.

- National Rally of Independents (RNI): centrist, relatively inclined towards social liberalism. Was the leading party in the last elections, heads the ruling coalition
- Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM): modernist and reform-oriented, formed by an advisor to the King and former Interior Minister
- "Istiqlal" Independence Party (PI): conservative nationalist
- Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP): left-wing socialist
- People's Movement (MP): centrist, dominated by Berber (Tamazight) speakers, but without a distinct Berber agenda
- Constitutional Union (UC): economically liberal, conservative on societal matters
- Justice and Development Party (PJD): moderate Islamist, was the ruling party between 2011-21
- Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS): socialist, formerly communist
- Democratic and Social Movement (MDS): social democracy, royalism
Type of State
Morocco is a constitutional monarchy Kingdom with an elected parliament.
Executive Power
The executive power is shared between the government and the King. The Prime Minister is promoted to head of government and as such presides over the Governing Council, but the Council of Ministers continues to be chaired by the King. The Government Council consists of all the ministers, deputy ministers and other Secretaries of State. It discusses public and sectoral policies, the commitment of the government's responsibility to the House of Representatives, current issues related to human rights and public order, bills, decrees, draft regulatory decrees and the appointment of secretaries and central directors of the public administration, university presidents, deans and directors of schools and higher institutes. The Governing Council only has deliberative power concerning the general policy of the State, international conventions, and the finance bill. The Council of Ministers, where only the head of government and the ministers sit, is responsible for the strategic direction of the state policy, the revision of the Constitution, drafting of organic laws, general guidance of the finance bill, amnesty, draft texts related to the military, the declaration of a state of siege, the declaration of war.
Legislative Power
The Parliament comprises the House of Representatives (395 deputies elected by universal direct suffrage for 5 years) and the House of Councillors (120 members elected by indirect universal suffrage for 6 years).
The Parliament votes the law; any bill must be successively examined by the two Houses. It moreover shares the initiative of the laws with the Prime Minister.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
136/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Partly Free
Political Freedom:
5/7
Civil Liberties:
5/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of Morocco, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

 

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Latest Update: February 2024