At the end of February 2022, Moroccan imports of energy products increased by 81% compared to the same period last year to reach 15.8 billion dirhams, while those concerning wheat almost doubled , totaling 4.1 billion dirhams.
The dizzying rise in commodity prices on world markets is more than felt on Morocco’s foreign trade indicators, and the bill is steep.
According to the latest figures from the Foreign Exchange Office, for the month of February 2022, published this Friday 1East April, Moroccan imports stand at more than 100 billion dirhams after the first two months of the year, up 37.8% compared to the same period last year.
At the same time, exports reached 62.47 billion dirhams, registering an increase of 23%. The trade deficit thus widened by 57.2%, and the rate of coverage of imports by exports fell to 61.2% (against 66% a year ago).
The increase in imports is mainly driven by energy products and cereals. Indeed, at the end of February 2022, the energy bill rose by 81% compared to the same period last year, to stand at 15.8 billion dirhams (compared to 8.7 billion dirhams a year ago exactly).
According to the Foreign Exchange Office, this change is mainly due to the 64% increase in the prices of imported fuels (diesel and fuel oil), which rose from 4,141 dirhams in February 2021, to 6,798 dirhams per ton in February 2022. The quantities imported are also up by 16.1%, rising from 915 thousand tonnes in February 2021 to 1,062 thousand tonnes in February 2022.
As for wheat imports, they are also growing very strongly after the first two months of 2022. Data from the Foreign Exchange Office show that Morocco’s wheat purchases amounted to 4, 1 billion dirhams at the end of February 2022, compared to 2.08 billion dirhams at the end of February 2021, up 97%. In other words, wheat imports have almost doubled in one year.
The Foreign Exchange Office explains that this change is due to both a price effect and a volume effect. Thus, wheat prices on world markets increased by 21.4% over one year (3,342 dirhams per ton at the end of February 2022 against 2,754 dirhams per ton at the end of February 2021), while the quantities of wheat imported by Morocco increased by 62% (1,227 thousand tonnes at the end of February 2022 against 757 thousand tonnes at the end of February 2021). “Wheat purchases by Morocco have reached their highest level in the last five years,” notes the Foreign Exchange Office.
This increase in wheat imports is the result, on the one hand, of the drought experienced by Morocco, which weighs considerably on its cereal harvest. According to Central Bank projections established at the end of March 2022, the 2022 cereal harvest should be limited to 25 million quintals (compared to more than 100 million quintals during last year’s harvest). On the other hand, it is the consequence of the rise in grain prices accentuated by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which opposes two of the world’s main wheat producers.
It should be recalled that during a press conference at the end of February, government spokesman Mustapha Baitas explained that Morocco had anticipated and reinforced its grain reserves, taking “the initiative during the first two year to import significant quantities of wheat.
In addition, on March 15, the government indicated that Morocco has a comfortable stock of common wheat to cover more than 4.7 months of industrial crushing, thanks in particular to the rate of imports observed following the suspension customs duties on common wheat and the flat-rate premium system.