RABAT, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Morocco’s trade deficit expanded by 1.5% to 209 billion dirhams ($21.6 bln) in 2019 compared with a year earlier, the foreign exchange regulator said on Wednesday.
Total imports rose 2% to 491 billion dirhams, outstripping exports of 282 billion dirhams, which were 2.4% higher, the regulator said in its monthly report.
Energy imports, including gas and oil, dropped 7.2% to 76.4 billion dirhams, or 15.6% of total imports. Morocco is north Africa's largest energy importer.
The automotive sector continued to top Morocco’s exports at 27.3% of all sales standing at 77.1 billion dirhams, up 6.6%. The North African country is home to production plants of French carmakers Renault and Peugeot and car part suppliers.
Agri-food exports grew 4.1% to 60 billion dirhams, while phosphates and by products dropped 5.9% to 50 billion dirhams due mainly to lower fertilizer sales.
Remittances from Moroccans living abroad, which are important to Morocco’s hard currency flow, were stable at 64.8 billion dirhams. Foreign direct investment dropped 46.8% to 18.1 billion dirhams.
Morocco’s foreign exchange reserves rose 6.4% at 244 billion dirhams by the end of January, enough to cover five months of imports, according to the Central Bank.
(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
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