In the past, Morocco has capitalized on its proximity to Europe and relatively low labor costs to build a diverse, open, market-oriented economy. Beginning in 1993, the country has followed a policy of privatization of certain economic sectors which used to be in the hands of the government. Since King Mohammed VI ascended to the throne in 1999, the Moroccan economy has been relatively stable. The economy has shown steady growth rates of approximately 5% per year, low rates of inflation, and decreases in government debt. Improvements in infrastructure such as the new port and free trade zone near Tangier are increasing Morocco’s competitiveness in the international market. When completed in 2014, the port in Tangier will be the largest in Africa. Morocco has become a major player in African economic affairs, and is the 5th African economy by GDP (PPP). Despite Morocco’s economic progress, the country suffers from high unemployment and poverty. Key economic challenges for Morocco include fighting corruption, reducing government spending, addressing socioeconomic disparities, and increasing industry.
The services sector accounts for just over half of GDP and industry, made up of mining, construction and manufacturing, is an additional quarter. The fastest growth sectors of Moroccan economy are the tourism, telecoms and textile sectors. Morocco, however, still depends largely on agriculture. The agriculture sector accounts for only around 14% of GDP but employs 40–45% of the Moroccan population. With a semi-arid climate, it is difficult to assure good rainfall making agricultural based lifestyles difficult. In addition Morocco’s GDP varies depending on the weather and crop production.
The major resources of the Moroccan economy are agriculture, phosphates, and tourism. Sales of fish and seafood are important as well. Industry and mining contribute about one-third of the annual GDP. Morocco is the world’s third-largest producer of phosphates and the price fluctuations of phosphates on the international market greatly influence Morocco’s economy.
Morocco has bilateral trade agreements with Europe and the United States. France is Morocco’s primary trade partner, foreign investor and creditor.
As of July 2010 estimates the unemployment rate in Morocco was 8.6%. Unfortunately the unemployment rate of youths age 15-24 is much higher 21.9%. This is significant because unemployed youth are the major participants in the protests that have rocked Morocco since the beginning of the Arab Spring. The youth voice has gained considerable power in Morocco and the protests will continue as long as unemployment remains high for this demographic