Morocco begins talks to curb trade deficit with Turkey

Morocco’s overall trade deficit widened by 2.3% to 191.8 billion dirhams ($20 billion) in the first 11 months of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018. (File: Reuters)
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Updated 15 January 2020

Morocco begins talks to curb trade deficit with Turkey

  • Turkey had agreed in talks on Wednesday to review their free trade deal
  • The two parties hope to agree on amendments to the trade accord by Jan. 30

RABAT: Morocco said it and Turkey had agreed in talks on Wednesday to review their free trade deal as Rabat struggles to curb its roughly $2 billion annual trade deficit with Ankara, the North African country’s trade minister said.
“We agreed to rebalance our trade through encouraging more Turkish investment in Morocco’s industrial sector and promoting more Moroccan exports to Turkey,” Moulay Hafid Elalamy said after talks in Rabat with Turkish counterpart Ruhsar Pekcan.
The two parties hope to agree on amendments to the trade accord by Jan. 30 “to avert losses in the Moroccan job market”, he said. “We are convinced that we can reach a more balanced and more significant deal.”
Elalamy did not elaborate. Pekcan declined to comment.
The Moroccan minister told parliament earlier this week that the free trade accord should be scrapped if no deal to amend it is reached. Elalamy said some of Morocco’s other 55 free trade deals would also be re-examined.
Members of parliament have complained to Elalamy about what they describe as “unfair competition practices” by some Turkish food and ready-to-wear retailers whose products are sold in Morocco under the free trade deal.
Omar Moro, head of Morocco’s chambers of commerce group, has said the deal is detrimental to Morocco’s textile industry.
Morocco’s overall trade deficit widened by 2.3% to 191.8 billion dirhams ($20 billion) in the first 11 months of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018, official figures show.


Bailout will keep Air France-KLM afloat for less than year: CEO

Updated 21 September 2020

Bailout will keep Air France-KLM afloat for less than year: CEO

  • ‘If we base it upon the past few weeks, it is clear that the recovery in traffic will be slower than expected’
  • Governments are coming under pressure to tie airline bailouts to environmental commitments

PARIS: Bailouts provided to Air France-KLM by the French and Dutch governments will keep the airline flying less than a year, its CEO Benjamin Smith said Monday and evoked the possibility of injecting new capital.
In an interview with the French daily l’Opinion, Smith also warned that calls for airlines to contribute more to fight climate change could be catastrophic for their survival which is already under threat due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When countries imposed lockdowns earlier this year to stem the spread of the coronavirus airlines faced steep drops in revenue that have claimed several carriers.
A number of countries stepped in with support, including France which provided $8.2 billion to Air France and the Netherlands which received a $2.9 billion package.
“This support will permit us to hold on less than 12 months,” said Smith.
The reason is that air traffic is picking up very slowly as many northern hemisphere countries are now fearing a second wave of infections.
“If we base it upon the past few weeks, it is clear that the recovery in traffic will be slower than expected,” according to Smith, who said when the bailout was put together the airline was expecting a return to 2019 levels only in 2024.
Smith said discussions were already underway with shareholders on shoring up the airline group, and steps would be taken before the next regular annual meeting in the second quarter of next year.
“One, three or five billion euros? It is too early to put a figure on a possible recapitalization,” he said.
The airline group had $12.12 billion in cash or available under credit lines.
Major shareholders include the French government with a 14.3 percent stake, the Dutch government at 14 percent, as well as Delta and China Eastern airlines which each hold an 8 percent stake.
Governments are coming under pressure to tie airline bailouts to environmental commitments.
One proposal that has come from a citizen’s convention convoked by President Emmanuel Macron would cost airlines an estimated $3.6 billion.
Smith said the imposition of environmental charges on the industry would be “irresponsible and catastrophic” for Air France-KLM.