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280,000 jobs lost due to Moroccan drought

229,000 jobs were lost in the past year in rural parts of Morocco, where climate change and water misuse are blamed for the drought Reuters/Youssef Boudlal
229,000 jobs were lost in the past year in rural parts of Morocco, where climate change and water misuse are blamed for the drought
  • Over 30% of workforce employed in agriculture
  • 35% of 15-24 year olds unemployed
  • Last month IMF approved $5bn credit line for Morocco

Morocco’s economy lost 280,000 jobs in the past 12 months, as the farming industry continues to battle against the worst drought the North African country has seen in decades.

A report from the Higher Commission for Planning (HCP) said 229,000 jobs were lost in rural parts of the country, where agriculture employs over 30 percent of the workforce. This compared to 51,000 jobs lost in urban areas over the same period.

The country’s unemployment rate increased to 12.9 percent in the first quarter of the year. In rural areas it is 5.7 percent and 17.1 percent in urban parts.

The rate of unemployment is highest among young people aged 15 to 24, at 35.3 percent, college graduates (19.8 percent) and women (18.1 percent), HCP said in its quarterly report.

Last month the International Monetary Fund’s executive board approved a two-year flexible credit line for Morocco that is worth $5 billion.

Despite the ongoing uncertainty, the World Bank predicts that economic growth in Morocco will remain strong overall this year.

It said GDP growth would accelerate to 3.1 percent in 2023, following a post-pandemic rebound.

The World Bank said Morocco’s real GDP growth dropped from 7.9 percent in 2021 to an estimated 1.2 percent last year, while the current account deficit increased from 2.3 to 4.1 percent of GDP.

In a bid to reduce the impact of rising costs on poorer Moroccan households, the government has introduced a support package, including general subsidies on food staples, and maintained pre-existing regulated prices.

In April the government scrapped value-added tax on agricultural inputs to help lower prices of fresh produce and other farmed food products.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the UAE and Morocco are aiming to double bilateral trade and investment volumes over the next seven years.

The two countries are forming a taskforce to build on their AED3.6 billion ($991 million) non-oil foreign trade last year, which was up 16 percent from 2021 and more than two-thirds higher than 2020.

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