Business in Brief: Push to Expand Tourism; Company News; Low Inflation Steadies – Jean R. AbiNader

Jean R. AbiNader, MATIC
September 29, 2016

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

Jean R. AbiNader, Exec. Dir., Moroccan American Trade and Investment Center

Morocco and Thailand inked a pact to broaden bilateral tourism promotion, and Moroccan authorities reached out to sub-Saharan Africa in an effort to promote trade, tourism, and investment. These efforts are in line with the country’s efforts to pump up declining tourist numbers that are off in the first half of 2016. In company news, OCP announced lower profits for the first half of this year, due to competition from China and a general decline in demand. On the other hand, Renault will be transferring some production to the Tangier facility from Romania; and the government reported that low inflation held steady in August, more good news for consumers and the private sector.

Tourism Push: The Bangkok Post reported on a recent trip by 60 representatives of the Thailand Travel Agents Association to Morocco following a memorandum of understanding signed in Rabat between Abderrafie Zouiten, director-general of the Moroccan National Tourist Office, and Suparerk Soorangura, president of the Thailand Travel Agents Association. During their ten-day trips the Thai travel agents and journalists visited Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech, and nine other cities and towns to familiarize themselves with the varied and rich tourist potential in the kingdom, in many ways, quite similar to Thailand.

Opening New Links to Africa: Morocco and Togo have launched the “Morocco-Africa Business Club” to provide a sub-Saharan site for attracting businessmen and women to opportunities in the kingdom. The mission of the club is to reduce trade barriers between potentially lucrative markets — inspired by King Mohammed VI’s emphasis on building stronger ties with sub-Saharan Africa to promote prosperity and stability. “In this spirit, the Moroccans and sub-Sahara African businessmen and women founded the Morocco-Africa Business Club. The aim of this organization is to facilitate the economic integration of Morocco in sub-Saharan Africa,” according to Kwame Senou, co-president of the club.  The club is located in Lome, Togo and will provided detailed business information as well as set up B2B meetings.

OCP Sees Profits Fall: According to a report published by Reuters, OCP noted a 23.2% fall in net profits in the first half of 2016 due to low prices resulting from strong Chinese exports in late 2015 that oversupplied the market in the early part of 2016. Chinese exports fell 31% for the same period in 2016, but its production was still higher than the same period the previous year.

While Renault is Bullish on Morocco:  French carmaker Renault has decided to transfer some of the production of its Dacia Logan MCV model from its factory in Romania to its plant in Tanger. “We will take over the production of this model currently made in Romania beginning in the first quarter of 2017,” Tangiers plant director Jean-Francois Gal was quoted as saying by French magazine L’Usine Nouvelle. Last year, the Logan MCV production reached around 40,000 units, and it is expected that only a part of the line will be moved to Morocco. This will enable the Romanian facility to produce more Duster SUVs.

Consumer Price Inflation Holds Steady:  Reuters reported that the High Planning Authority in

Morocco recently released the latest figures on consumer price inflation, which was flat at an annual 1.6 percent in August, the same rate as in July. Although yearly food inflation rose from 2.7% to 3% over the previous month, non-food price inflation rose only slightly to 0.6% year on year in August from an annual 0.5 percent in July. Transport costs fell less than 1% while hotels and restaurants were 2.6 percent more expensive, which coincided with higher costs usually associated with Ramadan.

Don’t forget the upcoming Morocco-US Trade & Investment Forum on October 3 in Seattle, Washington, hosted by Boeing with a special focus on the aeronautics supply chain, Morocco as a business platform for Africa, and the latest information on the country’s economic performance.

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