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Morocco’s trade deficit narrows 12% year/year in Jan-May

RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco’s trade deficit shrank by 12% to 73.7 billion dirhams ($7.58 billion) in the first five months of 2020 from a year earlier, the foreign exchange regulator said on Wednesday.

Imports dropped 16.9% to 174.5 billion dirhams and exports tumbled 20.1% to 100.8 billion dirhams, the regulator said in a monthly report citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Energy imports, including gas and oil, fell 9.2% to 22.9 billion dirhams, on the back of lower prices.

Drought has slashed by 42% Morocco’s cereals harvest this year, leading to a spike in soft wheat imports to 7.8 billion dirhams and in barley to 1.5 billion dirhams.

The automotive sector still tops Morocco’s industrial exports despite a drop in sales by 39.4% to 21.3 billion dirhams, while exports of phosphates and byproducts including fertilisers fell 1.6% to 20.5 billion dirhams.

Travel receipts, which are key to Morocco’s inflow of hard currency, dropped 24.2% to 21.6 billion dirhams, remittances from Moroccans living abroad fell 12.4% to 22.6 billion dirhams and foreign direct investments slid 15.9% to 7.2 billion dirhams.

(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

Employees work at a factory operated by Somaca in Tangiers

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