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Morocco’s economy is expected to grow 4.8 pc in 2017, driven by strong recovery in the agricultural sector, Mission Chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Morocco, Nicolas Blancher said.

“Following last year’s drought, growth is expected to rebound this year to 4.8 percent, driven by strong recovery in the agricultural sector, while non-agricultural growth, which has remained subdued, should pick up modestly by 0.2 percentage points”, Blancher pointed out at a press conference in Rabat following a mission to Morocco from June 29 to July 10, 2017 to conduct discussions with the Moroccan authorities on the second review under the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) arrangement.

Inflation is expected to slow to 0.9 percent for the year, while unemployment remains high, especially among the youth and women, he added.

The IMF official noted that the current account deficit should reduce to 4.0 percent of GDP in 2017, due to continued export growth and despite an increase in energy imports. 

Gross international reserves are expected to reach about US$24 billion at the end of 2017, about 6 months of imports, he said, adding that the IMF team welcomes the authorities’ intention to gradually move to a more flexible exchange rate regime, which would allow the Moroccan economy to better absorb external shocks and preserve competitiveness in the future.

The IMF team also welcomed the progress made in strengthening financial sector soundness, and encourages the authorities to accelerate structural reforms to improve the business climate and governance, combat corruption, reduce unemployment, particularly among the youth, lessen regional and social disparities, and reform the educational system to create more skilled workers.