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Decent Work Pilot Programme
Country Brief: Morocco I The National Context

Morocco is a middle-income country pursuing political, social and economic modernization. Since taking over from his father in 1999, Kind Mohammed VI has shifted the country to a constitutional monarchy, introduced legislation to promote women’s rights and made fighting poverty a central aim. At the same time, thegovernment has embarked on ambitious economic reforms to boost the country’s growth rate and spread its benefits more widely. These efforts come in response to persistent economic and social problems faced by Morocco. Despite rapid industrialization, the Moroccan economy remains heavily dependent on agriculture and vulnerable to climatic conditions and the evolution of export markets. Moreover, itssizable textile sector is facing increased competition following the elimination of international quotas in January 2005. Rates of poverty have risen, reflecting sluggish economic growth during the 1990s. Although it has made considerable progress in improving human development in recent years, Morocco trails other countries in its region in a number of indicators and is ranked 124 out of 177countries in the U.N. Human Development Index. Trading Nation With a population of about 30 million, Morocco has a fairly diverse economy in which trade plays an important role. Agriculture continues be a major factor in overall economic performance, with the sector accounting for about 15 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and employing 40 per cent of the labour force. About 25 per cent of thelabour force is engaged in industry and 35 per cent in services. Main industrial activities are textile production, mining of phosphates and food processing, while services are dominated by tourism and commerce. The economy is relatively open, with exports and imports accounting for about 50 per cent of GDP. Europe is Morocco’s major trading partner, and exports include textiles, agricultural andfish products, phosphates and phosphate derivatives. Trade between the Morocco and the European Union nearly doubled in value during the decade ending in 2002. An Association Agreement governs relations between Morocco and the EU, and the two partners signed a new fishing treaty in 2005. Nonetheless, trade liberalization slowed in Morocco during the 1990s compared with the previous decade. Incontrast, many of Morocco’s competitors on the European market aggressively liberalized their trade regimes during this period. A recently signed free trade agreement between Morocco and the U.S., which is yet to be ratified by Morocco Parliament, makes increases in trade and foreign investment likely. Morocco has played an active role in international trade negotiations, hosting the final summit of theUruguay Round trade negotiations, which were held under the auspices 1

of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. This led to the establishment of GATT’s successor, the World Trade Organization. However, the ability of Morocco to draw greater benefits from a more open trading environment depends on its success in increasing the competitiveness of industry and modernizing social andeconomic institutions. Of particular concern is the outlook for the textile industry, which accounted for 34 per cent of the value of manufactured exports and 42 per cent of industrial employment in 2000. Its 1,106 companies generate revenues of 15 billion Dirhams (about €1.5 billion). The ending at the end of 2004 of the international quota system established by the Multi-Fibre Arrangement has putincreased competitive pressure on Moroccan textile producers. Given that women make up more than 70 per cent of the workforce in the textile and garment industry, there is a distinct gender dimension to policies regarding this sector. Insufficient Growth Morocco’s economic expansion picked up somewhat in 2001-2004 after sluggish growth the previous decade. The IMF and World Bank estimate that the...
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