National exports boosted by the automobile in the first quarter

National exports improved in the first quarter of 2023, according to estimates by the High Commission for Planning (HCP). Supported by the good performance of travel services, the volume of exports of goods and services would have increased by 23.9% in the first quarter of 2023, indicated the public body, estimating that that of imports would have increased by 13.9%, in variations annuals. “In value, the increase in exports of goods would have reached 7.9% in annual variation, mainly reflecting a positive export price effect and relatively more resilient external demand, particularly for the automotive sector”, explained the High Commission. In its outlook report for the first quarter of 2023, the HCP specifies that shipments in the automotive sector would have been supported by sales in the construction and wiring segments, in line with the recovery of the automotive market in the euro zone, favored, among other things , through the alleviation of pressures on supply chains and greater availability of inputs. As a reminder, according to the monthly foreign exchange indicators of the Foreign Exchange Office, sales in the automotive sector posted an increase of 40.5% equivalent to +6.24 billion dirhams, standing at 21.66 billion dirhams at at the end of February 2023 against 15,420 MDH at the end of February 2022. According to the explanations of this other body, “this development follows the increase in sales of all segments of the sector, namely the construction segment (+44.7% or +2,916MDH), wiring (+43.8% or +2,203MDH) and vehicle interiors and seats (+20% or +255MDH)”. It also emerges from the same note that “the external sales of electrical and electronic products, followed by those of the textile and leather industry would also have contributed positively to the increase in overall exports”. Conversely, the High Commission estimates that shipments of phosphates and their derivatives, in particular natural and chemical fertilizers and phosphoric acid, would have declined during the first three months of the year. According to the explanations of the public institution headed by Ahmed Lahlimi Alami, they would have been “penalized by a withdrawal of the foreign request addressed to them”. Underpinned by the rise, although less sustained, of the energy bill, imports of goods in value would have, for their part, appreciated by 11.6% in annual variation, continues the HCP from the same source. With regard to the energy bill, the organization specifies that it would have been fed by purchases of diesel and fuel oil, petroleum gas and other hydrocarbons. It should be noted that excluding energy, imports would have been driven by the purchases of industrial capital goods and, to a lesser extent, by those of foodstuffs such as corn, dairy products and sugar and consumer goods, in particular passenger cars and their spare parts, as indicated in the note from the HCP which also provides its forecasts for the second quarter. According to the High Commission, “the more significant increase in imports, in value, compared to exports would have accentuated the deficit in the trade balance of goods and led to a drop in the coverage rate of 2 points, compared to the same period of 2022, to reach 58.4% in the first quarter of 2023”. Alain Bouithy