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Cablegate: Morocco Economic Highlights

VZCZCXRO2743
RR RUEHLMC
DE RUEHRB #2548/01 3551634
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211634Z DEC 05
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2339
INFO RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 0997
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 3617
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 8525
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT 2903
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 3922
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1405
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 5291
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2699
RUEATRS/DEPTTREAS WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC 0830
RUEAORC/USCBP WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAEPA/HQ EPA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RABAT 002548

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG, NEA/OFI AND INL/AAE
DEPT ALSO FOR EB/TPP, EB/IFD AND DRL/IL
STATE PASS USTR FOR DOUG BELL
STATE PASS USAID FOR JENNIFER RAGLAND
USDOC ITA/MAC/ANESA FOR DAVID ROTH
USDOC FOR FSC/OIO AND CLDP
USDOL FOR ILAB
PARIS FOR ZEYA
LONDON FOR TSOU
ROME FOR ROSE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAIR EFIN ECPS MO
SUBJECT: MOROCCO ECONOMIC HIGHLIGHTS


-----------------------------------
More Americans Traveling to Morocco
-----------------------------------

1. The flow of American tourists to Morocco has increased
through November 2005 by 16 percent in terms of arrivals and
by 23 percent in terms of bed-nights, compared to the same
period one year earlier. National air carrier Royal Air
Maroc (RAM) has also recorded a 23 percent increase in its
U.S.-Morocco passenger traffic in 2005. RAM estimates that
20-25 percent of the 92,000 customers on its New York-
Casablanca line are Americans. The airline attributes some
of this increase to a rise in transit traffic to the Middle
East, Europe and Africa, and the opening of new routes to
Cameroon, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso.

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---------------------------------------
Expatriate Remittances up Eight Percent
---------------------------------------

2. Moroccans resident abroad have sent back $3.7 billion in
the first 10 months of 2005, an increase of eight percent
over the same period in 2004. According to figures
published by the Moroccan Exchange Office, this is 23
percent higher than the average registered over the same
period of the last five years (2000 to 2004), when the
transfers stood at an average of $2.7 billion.

---------------------
Call Centers Flourish
---------------------

3. Maroc Telecom lowered its fees for call centers
operating in conjunction with companies in Belgium, France
and Spain on Dec. 19, in an effort to encourage the creation
of more centers and an increase in telephone traffic. Call
centers, which made their first appearance in Morocco just
five years ago, now employ over 10,000 Moroccans.

---------------------------------
Morocco Adopts IMF Data Standards
---------------------------------

4. Morocco joined 60 other countries last week when it
subscribed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special
Data Dissemination Standards (SDDS). The Ministry of
Finance and Privatization announced Morocco's certification
by the IMF on Monday, December 19. GOM officials called it
a "crowning achievement" on the part of various economic and
financial agencies to conform to international standards and
harmonize the collection and dissemination of economic and
financial statistical data using best international
practices. SDDS was established by the IMF to assist
countries seeking access to international capital markets.

---------------------------------------
Subsidies to be Phased Out - Eventually
---------------------------------------

5. The Moroccan government intends to gradually phase out
subsidies to basic commodities that currently cost the
government over $1.1 billion annually. The Government has
launched what it called a "gradual and definitive"
liberalization of subsidized products, according to Minister-

RABAT 00002548 002 OF 002


delegate for Economic Affairs, Rachid Talbi Alami. Annual
subsidies to basic commodities include $440 million for
petroleum products, $430 million for butane gas and $240
million for sugar. The GOM has already successfully phased
out subsidies for cooking oil which had cost $220 million
annually.

---------------------------------
Morocco Opens its Skies to the EU
---------------------------------

6. Morocco and the European Union signed an open skies
agreement on Dec. 14 to liberalize air travel starting next
year. The pact allows Moroccan air carriers to fly to and
transit from any EU airport, and reciprocally, opens
Moroccan airports to all EU carriers. Moroccan authorities
hope the agreement, which will come into force on Jan. 1,
2006, will bring more European tourists into Morocco.
Morocco already had separate aviation agreements with
individual EU states, but seeks through this new agreement
to intensify aviation competition and bring in the
additional travelers it needs to achieve its goal of 10
million tourist arrivals by 2010. The GOM estimates that
without such an agreement, national airline Royal Air Maroc
would have had to invest over $3 billion to expand its fleet
by 60 new planes over the next five years.

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