Will Red Sea tensions affect Morocco's economy?

There is debate in Morocco over whether or not the Red Sea crisis will impact the country's economy, at a time when the state is grappling with economic challenges related to drought and the slowdown in the global economy.

Since mid-November 2023, the southern Red Sea region, particularly the Bab al-Mandab Strait, has been facing attacks launched by the Houthi group on ships affiliated with Israel, which later hit American and British ships in support of Palestine. Expanded to include.

Business owners and professionals in Morocco fear the potential repercussions of the Red Sea tensions on energy prices in the country and their impact on prices in general, especially since the country imports more than 90% of its energy needs.

return of inflation

Like many countries, Morocco fears that inflation will rise again if the crisis persists, especially since many ships have used the Cape of Good Hope, located south of South Africa, as an alternative route to Bab El. Have started taking the route. -Mandab Strait and Red Sea.

The fear comes after a Moroccan MP raised the issue of the arrest of a company specializing in the supply, distribution and sale of fuel, which has a 12-year contract with Morocco, with all shipments transiting through the Red Sea indefinitely. Have taken.

sudden crisis

Moroccan economist Omar Kettani says the Red Sea tensions will affect his country's economy in the short term, requiring the state to look for alternatives to avoid a continuation of this impact.

Houthis target cargo ships owned or operated by Israeli companies or transporting goods to and from Israel (French)

In a statement to Anadolu Agency, Al-Kattani, professor of economics at Mohammed V University in Rabat (government), indicated that this would have an impact on the level of increase in ship shipment prices.

He pointed out that the country needs to look for options to meet its needs of goods at reasonable prices based on other corridors, especially since the country imports many products from China that pass through this corridor.

In addition to energy derivatives coming from Middle East countries, China is a major source of goods sold in Moroccan markets, all of which pass through the Red Sea.

Regarding Morocco's energy imports, the expert pointed out that given the difficulty of controlling what is happening in this sector at the international level, it is necessary for his country to continue strengthening renewable energies.

Al-Kattani believes that the country cannot control what is happening in the Red Sea, making it necessary to develop a program that includes anticipating potential threats within the next 10 or 15 years , and choices and strategies should be made based on this.

He called on his country to diversify its trade partners and said, “It is essential to build ports on the Moroccan coast on the Atlantic Ocean, especially in the south of the country, while strengthening the country's partnerships with African countries.” A station for receiving or passing ships.”

In turn, Moroccan MP Fatima Zahra Bata warned her country's government that tensions in the Red Sea would affect the country's energy sector.

This came in response to a question asked by an MP from the parliamentary block for a party In the House of Representatives, to Leila Benali, Minister of Energy Transition.

The MP drew attention to the decision of a company specializing in the supply, distribution and sale of fuel (which he did not specify) to indefinitely suspend all of its shipments through the Red Sea.

He promised that this company has a contract with Morocco for a period of 12 years. This decision means that the company will take the Cape of Good Hope route to reach its final destinations, resulting in an increase in the cost of supplies.

It called on the government to disclose the extent of the impact of tensions in the Red Sea on the local fuel market, and the supply and distribution chain and sales prices in Morocco.

As of Tuesday morning, there was no comment from the Moroccan government on the impact of the tensions on the economy.

the crisis is limited

For his part, Moroccan economist, Madieh Wadi, believes that Red Sea tensions currently have no impact on the country in terms of price growth levels.

In a statement to Anatolia, Wadi – who also heads the Moroccan Association for Consumer Protection (non-governmental) – said current indicators show that the rise in prices is not affected by the rising costs of maritime transport, as the Red Sea Tension.

He explained that these developments do not currently affect consumers in his country, especially at the level of basic materials. Fuel prices fell last January and continued to fall this February.

He warned that the rise in prices of some consumer products in his country is not due to the Red Sea tension, but due to other reasons. Such as: speculators and brokers.

“If tensions in the Red Sea region continue for more months, especially for imports through the Bab al-Mandab Strait, there could be an upside impact on prices,” he added.

Last week, the World Bank said the perception that tensions would continue in the Red Sea during the coming March and April could lead to a crisis in supply chains, as happened during the Corona pandemic.

US and British armed forces launched joint strikes against targets in areas controlled by the Houthis in Yemen. (Reuters)

“Shipping rates from Asia to Europe tripled to about $3,000 per 40-foot container, the lowest rate recorded in 2023,” the bank said.

Tension in the Red Sea has entered a critical escalation phase since last January 9, the Houthis directly targeted an American ship, because they were, within the framework of solidarity with the Gaza Strip, owned or operated by Israeli companies or transporting They were targeting cargo ships. Goods to and from Israel.

Last January, the White House announced in a joint statement with 10 countries that in response to Houthi attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea, US and British armed forces conducted joint strikes against targets in areas controlled by the Houthis in Yemen. ,

In solidarity with the Gaza Strip, which has been exposed to a devastating Israeli war with US support since October 7, 2023, the Houthis are targeting cargo ships owned or operated by Israeli companies in the Red Sea with missiles and drones, or transporting goods to and from Israel, which later expanded to target American and British ships.

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