Morocco is primarily an agricultural country, and its dependence on agriculture has hampered economic growth. While Morocco was a French colony, the economy was shaped by French interests. Fruits and vegetables, and phosphate rocks for fertilizer, became its chief exports. Morocco’s economic ties to Europe remain strong, and the country hopes to strengthen these ties by joining the European Union (EU). Manufacturing and agribusiness have grown along the coast, which is far more developed than the interior of the country, where traditional farming continues.
Tourism has become increasingly important to Morocco’s economy, with more than 2 million tourists visiting the country each year. Tourist complexes have been built along the coast, and large new hotels have sprung up in Fès, Marrakech, and other popular tourist destinations. Agadir is the chief coastal resort.
In 2005 gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $51.6 billion, or $1,711.10 per person. (GDP is a measure of the value of all goods and service a country produces.) The government’s budget in 2005 included revenues of $16.2 billion and expenditures of $14.9 billion.
Despite Morocco’s dependence on agriculture, only 19 percent of the land is cultivated. Agricultural output is reliant on weather conditions, particularly rainfall, and income from agriculture depends on agricultural prices, neither of which the country controls. The principal crops of Morocco are cereals, particularly wheat and barley; root crops such as potatoes and sugar beets; vegetables, including tomatoes and melons; fruits, particularly citrus fruits, grapes, and dates; and sugarcane. A wide variety of other fruits and vegetables are also grown. Livestock includes sheep, goats, and cattle.
Forestry is not an important industry in Morocco. Cork oak forests of the Gharb region supply industrial cork. Much of the timber cut is used as fuel. Fishing has become increasingly important to the economy, and the waters off the coast of Morocco are rich in fish. Conflicts developed with the European Union (EU) in the late 1990s over European, especially Spanish, fishing fleets operating in Moroccan waters. Spanish fishers threatened to block imports of fish from Morocco if their boats were barred from Moroccan waters. An agreement reached with the EU reduced European fish catches to protect endangered stocks of fish and boost Morocco’s fishing industry.
The chief fishing centers in Morocco are Agadir, Safi, Essaouira, and Casablanca. The fish catch includes sardines, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, and shellfish. Much of the catch is processed—frozen or canned—for export in Morocco. Morocco is a leading producer of phosphate rock, used for fertilizer. Morocco has about two-thirds of the world’s known supply of phosphate rock. Output was 8.5 million metric tons in 2004. Other minerals, produced in small amounts, include coal, iron ore, silver, and zinc. The government has promoted efforts to expand Morocco’s manufacturing sector since the 1980s to reduce the country’s dependence on agriculture and phosphate exports. The major industry is the processing of phosphates. Steel mills were built during the 1980s and 1990s, and petroleum refining has increased in importance. Food-processing and textiles have also become significant industries. Handicrafts are supported by the government, and Moroccan artisans produce fabrics, leather goods, ceramics, rugs and carpets, and woodwork of high quality. "Morocco" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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