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Cablegate: Morocco Economic Highlights

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RABAT 001690

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG, NEA/PI AND INL/AAE
DEPT ALSO FOR EB/TPP, EB/IFD AND DRL/IL
STATE PASS USTR FOR DOUG BELL
STATE PASS USAID FOR SARA BORODIN
USDOC ITA/MAC/ANESA FOR DAVID ROTH
USDOC FOR FSC/OIO AND CLDP
USDOL FOR ILAB, NAO AND KARESH
PARIS FOR ZEYA
LONDON FOR GOLDRICH
ROME FOR ROSE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAIR ELAB EAID EFIN EPET SENV EWWT MO
SUBJECT: MOROCCO ECONOMIC HIGHLIGHTS

Ref: A) Rabat 1061; B) Rabat 1468; C) 04 Rabat 2292

------------------------------
GOM Raises Fuel Prices (Again)
------------------------------

1. The Government of Morocco (GOM) raised fuel prices by
five percent on August 7 in a move designed to lower the
government's fuel subsidy burden. Premium grade gasoline
now costs $1.15 per liter, diesel fuel $0.90, and industrial
fuel $0.30. The GOM said the increase - the second in just
three months - was a result of the persistent upsurge of
international oil prices. In May gasoline prices were
raised by five percent and diesel fuel by eight percent (Ref
A). Energy Minister Mohammed Boutaleb said that in spite of
the recent price increases the GOM will still spend between
$550 and $660 million on fuel subsidies this year. Morocco
imported $2.6 billion worth of oil in 2004, a $260 million
increase over 2003.

-------------------------
Unemployment Holds Steady
-------------------------

2. Morocco's unemployment rate was 11.1 percent in the
second quarter of 2005, unchanged from the same period one
year earlier. The GOM's High Planning Commission (HCP)
announced August 8 that joblessness rose from 3.1 percent to
3.7 percent in rural areas, and declined from 19.3 percent
to 18.4 percent in urban centers, yielding an unchanged 11.1
percent rate nationwide. An increase of jobs in the
building and construction sector of 17 percent was
responsible for most of the gains in urban employment.

----------------------------------
Traffic Soaring on Royal Air Maroc
----------------------------------

3. National air carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) expects a 20
percent growth in international traffic in 2005, for a total
of 3.7 million passengers. RAM's low-cost affiliate Atlas
Blue will fly an additional 800,000 people during the same
period. The high traffic is expected to push the airline's
2005 revenue over the $1 billion mark, an 18 percent rise
over the previous year. RAM says it will add new
international routes in 2006 to Munich, Beirut, Lome and
Lille, and is considering additional lines to Accra and
Brazzaville.

--------------------------------
USTDA Grant for Tangier-Med Port
--------------------------------

4. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) signed a
$370,000 grant for the Tangier-Mediterranean Special Agency
(TMSA) which will finance a study of safety and security
needs at the Tangier-Med port currently under construction
on Morocco's Mediterranean coast. The study will determine
what equipment and training are necessary for the port to
meet international port security standards and explore how
to tie in the USG's Container Security Initiative (CSI) and
Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). The
port, located 35 km east of the northern city of Tangier,
will receive cargo containers transiting the Gibraltar
Strait to and from Europe and other continents.

-------------------------------------
Ambassador Visits Couscous Enterprise
-------------------------------------

5. Ambassador and Econoff visited Daricouspate (Dari), a
family-owned Moroccan enterprise specializing in couscous
and pasta production, to discuss challenges and
opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in
Morocco (Ref B). Dari recently launched a successful
Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Casablanca Stock
Exchange. Bankers from Finergy, the financial firm that
structured Dari's IPO, were also in attendance. Finergy is
a relatively new investment bank (established two years ago)
that specializes in SME financing.

-------------------------------------
Casablanca Stock Exchange's Busy Year
-------------------------------------

6. The transaction volume on Morocco's Casablanca stock
exchange reached $7.5 billion in the first five months of
2005, four times more than in the same period of 2004. Over
30 percent of the market's transaction volume during that
time resulted from Maroc Telecom's massive stock sale in
December 2004 (Ref C). The Casablanca exchange finished the
first five months of the year up 3.6 percent. Best sector
performers were finance companies (17.7 percent), agri-food
industry (13.7 percent) and building (4.5 percent). Bad
performers included mining companies (down 22 percent) and
portfolio-holding companies (down 4.8 percent).

--------------------------------------
Jellyfish Invasion Bad for Beach Goers
--------------------------------------

7. A swarm of jellyfish stretching from the Balearic
Islands in Spain to Wadi Laou in northern Morocco is
plaguing holiday makers on Morocco's Mediterranean beaches.
The Pelagia Noctilucam jellyfish delivers a painful burning
sting which fades after several minutes. The fear of
jellyfish attacks has kept tourists off certain beaches,
particularly around the town of Fnideq.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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