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December 14th, 2011 WW Staff | NikeLeaks Cables: Africa and Middle East
 

Morocco: MOROCCO ECONOMIC HIGHLIGHTS

     
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Reference ID: 06RABAT490
Created: 2006-03-20 14:10
Released: 2011-08-30 01:44
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Origin: Embassy Rabat

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RUEATRS/DEPTTREAS WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC 0865
RUEAORC/USCBP WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAEPA/HQ EPA WASHINGTON DC

    UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RABAT 000490

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D COPY (ADDED CAPTION AND SIGNATURE)

SENSITIVE
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, EFIN, EINV, ELAB, ECPS, MO
SUBJECT: MOROCCO ECONOMIC HIGHLIGHTS

RABAT 00000490 001.3 OF 002


This message is Sensitive but Unclassified. Please treat
accordingly.

--------------------------
Exchange Rate on the Move?
--------------------------

1. (U) Central bank governor Abdellatif Jouahri said March
14 that Morocco plans to move "in the medium-term" towards a
more flexible exchange rate system. Jouahri said the
country's increasing openness to trade warrants a transition
to an as-yet-unspecified exchange regime, a move the IMF has
consistently recommended. The Dirham is currently loosely
pegged to a basket of currencies strongly weighted toward
the Euro. Jouahri said to do this the country will work to
strengthen its monetary policy and its banking system. He
also said the kingdom will be ready in 2007 to meet banking
transparency requirements under the Basel II agreement
concluded in 2004.

-------------------------
FTA Attracting Investment
-------------------------

2. (SBU) Econ contacts in the Prime Minister's office have
confirmed that Italian textile manufacturer Legler will soon
announce an investment of more than $65 million to establish
manufacturing operations in Morocco. The move will create
800 jobs and is part of Legler's strategy to access the
American market using the newly-implemented U.S.-Morocco
Free Trade Agreement. Industry contacts say they have heard
rumors of forthcoming investment in Morocco (and in some
cases reinvestment) by several prominent retailers including
Gap, JC Penny, Levis and NIKE. These investments would be,
in many cases, directly related to FTA implementation.

-------------------
Yes, We Have No Gas
-------------------

3. (U) Gas stations were closed nationwide on March 13 as
the Federation of Fuel Traders (FNCCM) staged a one-day
strike to protest a new increase in fuel prices and new
taxes on oil products. The latest price hike was the third
since July 2005. The FNCCM also protested a seven percent
rise in VAT on fuel sold by service-stations, a measure
aimed at reducing a $1.5 billion deficit in state subsidies.

---------------------
Funding Entrepreneurs
---------------------

4. (U) The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the
Foundation for Local Development and Partnership (Fondep), a
Moroccan microfinance institution, signed an agreement to
provide Fondep with credit to expand its microfinance
lending activities. Created in 1996, Fondep offers loans
and counsel to entrepreneurs normally excluded from
traditional bank lending, such as rural women and young
people. IFC's partial credit guarantees will allow Fondep
to obtain financing of up to $6 million at favorable rates.
The agreement marks IFC's first structured finance
transaction in Morocco.





-----------------
Mortgages for All
-----------------

5. (U) In an encouraging sign for a moribund banking sector,
Attijariwafa bank, the largest bank in Morocco and the
eighth largest in Africa, is expanding its position in the
home mortgage market. Although traditionally, Moroccan
banks have shied away from mortgage lending and small
business loans in favor of large collateralized loans to
known customers, Attijariwafa will introduce three new
products targeting professionals, students and low income
earners. The new products have been publicized through an
aggressive (albeit humorous) advertising campaign. The
Moroccan mortgage market has grown considerably over the
past five years, with 2005 mortgages reaching almost $7
million, up from less than $4 million in 2000.

------------------------
World Bank Supports INDH
------------------------

6. (U) The World Bank announced March 14 that it will
provide substantial funding in support of the GOM's Human
Development Initiative (INDH), the King's signature economic
and social development program. The announcement was made
after a meeting between World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz
and Prime Minister Driss Jettou. During the same visit,
Jettou also met with IMF deputy managing director Takatoshi
Kato and with Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) CEO
John Danilovich. The GOM is also seeking substantial
funding for the INDH from MCC and other members of the donor
community.

-------------------
Not Just Casablanca
-------------------

7. (U) American actor/director Irwin Winkler has begun
shooting his latest film "Home of the Braves" in the
southern Moroccan city of Ouarzazate. The film, which
features American rapper 50 Cent and Samuel L. Jackson, will
also be shot in Spokane, Washington.
Riley

RABAT 00000490 002.2 OF 002


-----------------
Mortgages for All
-----------------

5. (U) In an encouraging sign for a moribund banking sector,
Attijariwafa bank, the largest bank in Morocco and the
eighth largest in Africa, is expanding its position in the
home mortgage market. Although traditionally, Moroccan
banks have shied away from mortgage lending and small
business loans in favor of large collateralized loans to
known customers, Attijariwafa will introduce three new
products targeting professionals, students and low income
earners. The new products have been publicized through an
aggressive (albeit humorous) advertising campaign. The
Moroccan mortgage market has grown considerably over the
past five years, with 2005 mortgages reaching almost $7
million, up from less than $4 million in 2000.

------------------------
World Bank Supports INDH
------------------------

6. (U) The World Bank announced March 14 that it will
provide substantial funding in support of the GOM's Human
Development Initiative (INDH), the King's signature economic
and social development program. The announcement was made
after a meeting between World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz
and Prime Minister Driss Jettou. During the same visit,
Jettou also met with IMF deputy managing director Takatoshi
Kato and with Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) CEO
John Danilovich. The GOM is also seeking substantial
funding for the INDH from MCC and other members of the donor
community.

-------------------
Not Just Casablanca
-------------------

7. (U) American actor/director Irwin Winkler has begun
shooting his latest film "Home of the Braves" in the
southern Moroccan city of Ouarzazate. The film, which
features American rapper 50 Cent and Samuel L. Jackson, will
also be shot in Spokane, Washington.

 
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