Morocco trade deficit widens over first half of year

RABAT, July 29 (Reuters) - Morocco’s trade deficit widened by 13% to 97.4 billion dirhams ($11 billion) in the first half of 2021, the foreign exchange regulator said on Thursday.

Imports rose 19.5% to 250.3 billion dirhams, while exports jumped 24% to 152.8 billion dirhams from January to June compared to the previous year, the regulator said in a monthly report.

The automotive sector continues to top Morocco’s industrial exports at 42.3 billion dirhams, up 42.8%, while exports of phosphates and byproducts including fertilisers rose 23.8% to 31 billion dirhams.

Energy imports stood at 31.7 billion dirhams, up 21.1%.

Remittances from Moroccans abroad, crucial to Morocco’s inflow of hard currency, rose 48% to 44 billion dirhams, while foreign direct investment increased 5.4% to 9.6 billion dirhams. (Reporting by Ahmed El Jechtimi; editing by Angus McDowall and Dan Grebler)