RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco’s trade deficit rose 10.1 percent to 21.16 billion dirhams ($2.17 billion) in the first two months of 2016 compared with a year earlier, due to higher imports, the foreign exchange regulator said on Wednesday.
The trade gap was up from 19.23 billion dirhams at the end of February 2015, as equipment imports rose 14.4 percent to 15 billion dirhams, data showed. Wheat imports jumped 44.2 percent from a year earlier to 2.35 billion dirhams as harsh weather hit the local harvest this year.
It is the first time the deficit has risen in more than 18 months as the North African kingdom has been taking advantage of lower energy prices. Morocco is a net energy importer.
Energy imports fell 21.1 percent to 7.1 billion dirhams, it said.
Total exports rose 1.2 percent from a year earlier to 36.3 billion dirhams, led by an 10 percent rise in auto exports. Phosphate sales fell 8.3 percent to 5 billion dirhams.
Tourism receipts rise slightly by 1.1 percent, while remittances from the 4.5 million Moroccans living abroad were flat at 9.4 billion dirhams. Foreign direct investment rose 6.2 percent to 5.36 billion dirhams.
Figures are in billions of dirhams:
Jan-Fev Jan-Fev Jan
2016 2015 2016
EXPORTS 36.29 35.85 18.32
IMPORTS 57.45 55.08 25.68
BALANCE -21.16 -19.23 -7.36
REMITTANCES 9.39 9.39 4.86
RECEIPTS 7.47 7.39 3.79
INVESTMENT 5.36 5.05 2.13
($1 = 9.7652 Moroccan dirham)
(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Toby Chopra)