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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05RABAT2139 2005-10-13 16:41:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Rabat
Cable title:  

MOROCCO ECONOMIC HIGHLIGHTS

Tags:   ECON EWWT PTER KTEX EAGR EAIR ETRD MO SOCI 
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1. Ahmed Lahlimi, High Commissioner for Planning announced
during an October 4 press briefing on the 2004 census
results that the poverty rate in Morocco in 2004 stood at
14.2%, 2.3% lower than in 1994. The census showed
improvement in both urban (2.5% decrease) and rural areas
(1% decrease). Lahlimi attributed improved drinking water,
electricity, and road building programs and the National
Initiative for Human Development. Recently, Minister of
Social Development Harouchi announced a poverty rate of
13.7% (defined as Moroccans living on less than one dollar
per day). Harouchi noted that 25% of Moroccans are on the
verge of poverty and nearly 40% could be defined as poor
under international standards. Highest percentage is
concentrated in the East of the Atlas Mountains.



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Safi Port Security Upgrades


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2. The Port of Safi, Morocco's Atlantic coast 250
kilometers south of Casablanca, completed a USD 600 thousand
security upgrade, including a containment wall with 600
meter setback, and new local customs and police posts on
site at the port. Khalid Mansour, Safi's Port Director said
that a new signaled access point will better control traffic
in and out of the port. The next phase of the project - a
USD 60 thousand effort to reequip and redesign the fishery
harbor at the port - will take place in 2006. More than 600
commercial ships carrying five million tons of cargo and
commodities (two thirds for export) are served in Safi each
year.




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Textile Association Spinning and Weaving


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3. Karin Tazi, Chief of the Moroccan textile association
AMITH said reports of the death of the Moroccan industry
have been much exaggerated. "Those who had forecast the
collapse of Moroccan textile production" with the end of the
Multi-Fibre Accord and the China's WTO accession will be
disappointed, he told journalists. Tazi admitted a 10
percent drop in exports in the first quarter of 2005, but
optimistically reported that the situation is "redressing
itself." AMITH looks forward to a Moroccan government
program, expected to be launched on October 17, that will
help it be "competitive with its Euro Mediterranean rivals."



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Better Late than Never: Land Leases Issued


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4. Although delayed by several months, over 127,000 acres
of state-owned agricultural land was leased in an open
auction by government agencies SODEA and SOGETA. According
to press reports, selection of the winning private
candidates was based on experience, investment plan, number
of jobs created and rental value. Over 157 candidates were
selected, including 21 of which were foreign. The winning
bids include several relatively small Moroccan farmers, well-
established large farmers seeking to increase their market
share, food processors, agricultural cooperatives and other
"reputable" investors. Large concession was awarded to an
agro-industrial conglomerate controlled by a prominent
Moroccan agricultural family.



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Not the Enterprise Center: SME Training Program


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5. The Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises signed an
agreement with Al Akhawayne University (AUI) this week to
establish a training institute for directors of small and
medium sized companies. AUI will contribute the facilities
of its Casablanca-based Executive Education center. The
training sessions will last six to twelve months and cover
the entire life cycle of a small company. This announcement
corresponds with recent efforts by the GOM to finance and
develop (also in collaboration with AUI) a G-8/Broader
Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) initiated Center for
Entrepreneurial Excellence.




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More than Four Million Passengers


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6. National carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) posted a record
volume in the first nine months of 2005. Flagship RAM and
its low-cost regional subsidiary Atlas Blue carried over 4.1
million passengers from January through September, a 21
percent increase over the same period in 2004. African
routes enjoyed the largest gains, rising 71 percent in terms
of passenger numbers. RAM officials proudly note the
sixteen additional destinations added during 2005. Emboffs
note that Morocco is a steadfast Boeing client: RAM has
only a few Airbus aircraft in its fleet, Atlas Blue flies
exclusively Boeing planes.

RILEY