Morocco makes slow progress.

Position:Economy

Good rains notwithstanding, the Moroccan government's idea that it would be able to triple economic growth to 5.4 percent anytime soon seems unduly optimistic. The government's optimism was reported in a story carried by the Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain) on December 23, 2005.

The main subject of the story was the approval of Morocco's 2006 budget by the country's parliament. And part of the optimism expressed had to do with a change in the weather from drought conditions-that ruined a large portion of Morocco's cereal crop and depressed GDP-to good rains. The rain will be helpful to the 2006 crop cycle and therefore to GDP growth prospects.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) does not totally share the Moroccan government's optimism. In a review of the economic situation there, published in November 2005, the IMF pointed out that Morocco's growth performance is below that of other developing nations. The IMF reviewed a number of economic factors and concluded that productivity in several sectors was a continuing problem. The IMF acknowledged that progress has been made but more needs to be done. Recent structural reforms were singled out for credit.

As a result of low growth, Morocco's active consumer sector is small-approximately 3-million mostly urban residents, slightly less than 10 percent of the country's total population. The estimate appeared in a report prepared by the Canadian government in November 2005.

Morocco's urban areas appear to be where contemporary marketing thrives most easily (as in other developing countries) and the cities are attracting such emblems of consumer spending as supermarkets. The country has approximately 20 large supermarkets and 230 small supermarkets.

Fast food is also growing stimulated by Morocco's youthful population. The Canadian report estimates that 55 percent of Morocco's population is under the age of 25. These young people are more likely to be influenced by Western values through movies, music and television, which provide a context for fast food growth.

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