Morocco forecasts 4.5% economic growth

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Morocco's government expects the economy to expand by 4.5 percent in 2013, gaining pace after projected growth of 3.4 percent this year but its budget deficit should decline only marginally, official media reported on Friday.

In remarks carried by state news agency MAP, Finance and Economy Minister Nizar Baraka said the government aims to cut the budget deficit to 4.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 from 5 percent projected by the government for this year.

The government had not previously given estimates for 2013.

Morocco has been hit by drought and the economic slowdown in the European Union, its main trading partner. Europe is also the main source of tourists for Morocco and of money transfers from the 2 million Moroccans living there.

Anxious to avoid the kind of unrest seen in other parts of the Arab world and worried about increases in global commodity prices, Rabat last year raised public sector wages and has more than trebled funds for food and energy subsidies to over $6 billion.

The North African country ended 2011 with fiscal and external deficits slightly above 6 percent of gross domestic product. GDP totalled around 817 billion dirhams ($95.6 billion).

The central bank, however, forecasts a budget deficit of between 5 and 6 percent of GDP in 2012, higher than the budget minister's forecast of 5 percent. - Reuters

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