Middle East

Morocco

Rise in inflation to prove short-lived

Inflation in many economies in the region has risen to multi-year highs in recent months. In general, this has been driven higher by a combination of unfavourable base effects from the pandemic, as well as some re-opening inflation and the effects of rising global commodity prices. In Oman, those effects have been compounded by the introduction of VAT in April. Most of the drivers appear to be transient and inflation is likely to slow again over 2022-23 and, in Egypt, this is likely to bring interest rate cuts back on to the agenda. One key exception is Lebanon, where inflation is already running at over 100% and will remain elevated amid the effects of the collapse in the pound and the repeal of subsidies.

28 September 2021

Qatar gas, Morocco FX purchases, Tunisian turmoil

The continued rise in global gas prices will provide a substantial boost to Qatar's export revenues and provide scope for policymakers to loosen the purse strings to support the economic recovery. Elsewhere, moves by Morocco’s central bank suggest that the currency could appreciate further. Finally, Tunisia’s President Kais Saied's moves on Wednesday add to signs that his power grab is leading to a one-man rule. This will reinforce concerns about the future of Tunisia’s democracy and the government’s capacity to service its debts.

23 September 2021

Morocco’s recovery to surprise on the upside

Morocco’s strong vaccine rollout and a rebound in the agricultural sector will support a robust recovery over the coming quarters. Although a slow return of tourists and fiscal consolidation will act as headwinds, we still think that GDP growth will be stronger than most expect over 2021-23.

2 September 2021
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Unrest in Tunisia, Gulf restrictions, Egypt fuel hike

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied’s power grab on Sunday and moves over the course of this week will reinforce concerns about the future of democracy in the country and the likelihood of a sovereign debt restructuring has increased further. Elsewhere, the Gulf countries have taken a strong stance on the need for proof of COVID-19 vaccinations to access domestic services and travel internationally, although we doubt this will have a major impact on recoveries. Finally, the hike in Egyptian fuel prices this week which will push up inflation and delay the start of a monetary easing cycle
 

A two-speed recovery

Strong COVID-19 vaccine rollouts in most of the Gulf and Morocco mean that remaining virus restrictions should be lifted by the end of this year, providing a boost to recoveries that, in the Gulf, will be turbo-charged by the recent OPEC+ deal to raise oil output. Elsewhere, though, vaccination programmes are progressing more slowly and fresh virus outbreaks will remain a key threat to the outlook. At the same time, many of these economies will suffer as international tourists return only slowly and officials turn back to fiscal consolidation in order to address high public debt-to-GDP ratios.

Higher oil prices to help narrow twin deficits

The price of oil has continued to rise and will help to improve balance sheets in the Gulf. With oil prices at $75pb, all Gulf economies with the exceptions of Bahrain and Oman are likely to be running current account surpluses, having run deficits in 2020. Budget deficits will have narrowed too and this may open the door to looser fiscal policy. Indeed, there have been signs recently that policymakers in Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia are moving in this direction. However, we expect that the price of oil will fall later in the year, meaning that the window to raise spending may be limited.

The latest on COVID-19 and vaccines in MENA

Virus numbers have fallen in the past few months in the MENA region and a rapid vaccine rollout should allow most of the Gulf economies, as well as Morocco, to lift restrictions further over the second half of the year. Elsewhere in the region, where the vaccine rollout is much slower, containment measures will stay in place for longer and the key summer tourist season will be lost for the second year in a row.

Moroccan car sector to drive recovery this year

Morocco’s economy has slowed over the past few years, but we think that a recovery will take hold in 2020. Further out, we expect that the country will record growth in excess of 5% a year by 2030.

5 February 2020
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