North Africa News May 2021

Covid-19 Status

(as at May 2, 2021)

Business

MOROCCO – Morocco extends support for pandemic-impacted businesses until June 30
Morocco’s Economic Monitoring Committee (CVE) has decided to extend until June 30, 2021, the measures it implemented to protect businesses from the impact of COVID-19. The CVE implemented the measures throughout 2020 through eight different agreements, which concern the sectors of tourism, restaurants, catering, event planning, entertainment venues, the press, cultural and creative industries, gyms, and nurseries. The measures include exemption from social security obligations, as well as loan guarantee programs.
Apr. 2, 2021

MOROCCO – French manufacturer Clayens NP Group expands its Moroccan factory
French manufacturing company Clayens NP Group has expanded its industrial unit in Mohammedia, Morocco, by 70% in surface. The expansion required an investment of MAD 73 mn (EUR 6.9 mn) and is expected to generate 100 new jobs and an additional turnover of MAD 120 mn (EUR 11.3 mn). The Mohammedia factory, which has been operating since 2003, specializes in manufacturing plastic components used in the automotive sector, electronics, and home appliances.
Apr. 2, 2021

MOROCCO – Morocco allocates EUR 423 mn to support agricultural projects in 2021
Morocco’s Ministry of Agriculture has allocated a budget of MAD 4.5 bn (EUR 423 mn) to support private agricultural projects in 2021. The budget will benefit local farmers, as well as agricultural cooperatives across Morocco. It will be invested in creating and upgrading agricultural units, as well as equipping farms across the country with advanced irrigation systems to counter the effects of drought. Farmers and agricultural investors wishing to benefit from the budget can apply through Morocco’s Fund of Agricultural Development (FDA).
Apr. 3, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia to Host 4th Financing Investment and Trade in Africa conference
Tunisia is set to host the fourth Financing Investment and Trade in Africa conference (FITA 2021). The event is set to take place in Tunis from June 24-26, 2021. The conference will include several discussion panels and workshops about the different opportunities and challenges of African markets. The event will also host a series of B2B meetings. Registration for the event is available through the website of the TABC (Tunisia Africa Business Council), or through the mobile application “FITA Events.”
Apr. 16, 2021

TUNISIA – Italian company to build 1,700 km highway between Tunisia and Egypt
Italy’s largest engineering and general contracting group Webuild, formerly known as SaliniImpregilo, has won a contract to build a highway linking eastern Tunisia to western Egypt through Libya. The highway will be 1,700 kilometers long and is expected to be built over two to three years. The major infrastructure will include 12 bridges, eight rest areas, and six parking lots. The project will have a total budget of EUR 963 mn.
Apr. 23, 2021

ALGERIA – Algeria extends measures to support banks and businesses until June 30
The Bank of Algeria has extended the measures implemented to support businesses and financial institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic until June 30, 2021. The extension is the third of its kind since the implementation of the measures in April 2020. The measures concerning financial institutions include a reduction of the minimum liquidity threshold and an exemption from some financial obligations. Meanwhile, the measures concerning businesses mainly include the postponement of loan reimbursements and debt rescheduling.
Apr. 1, 2021

ALGERIA – Oil companies Sonatrach and Shell sign memorandum of understanding
Algeria’s national oil company Sonatrach has signed a memorandum of understanding with Shell International Trading and Shipping. The agreement will allow the two companies to explore ways to cooperate in the supply and trading of crude oil, natural gas, and oil derivatives. The memorandum also provides for the exchange of experiences between the two companies in terms of carbon management and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Apr. 1, 2021

ALGERIA – Algeria launches new maritime cargo route with Mauritania
Algerian maritime transport companies Anisfer and Global Maritime Algeria (GMA) have launched a new maritime route for cargo transportation between Algiers and Nouakchott, Mauritania. The route will be operated by the Algerian cargo ship “Imedghassen,” which has a capacity of 1,000 containers. The ship will make a trip between Algerian and Mauritania every 20 days. It will mainly serve to export Algerian products to Mauritania and West African countries.
Apr. 13, 2021

Politics

MOROCCO – Moroccan government implements strict night curfew during Ramadan
The Moroccan government has established a stricter nationwide night curfew, running from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., during the Islamic month of Ramadan (from April 14 to May 12-13). During the curfew, citizens are banned from leaving their homes, except for special circumstances, such as professional obligations or medical emergencies. Businesses also cannot open their doors during the curfew.
Apr. 7, 2021

MOROCCO – Morocco suspends flights to and from 13 additional countries
Morocco has closed its air borders with 13 additional countries, bringing the total number of countries with which Morocco has suspended flights to 52. The full list of countries is as follows: Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Algeria, Egypt, Poland, Norway, Finland, Greece, Lebanon, Kuwait, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Cameroon, Croatia, Mozambique, Mali, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Libya, France, Spain, Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
Apr. 16, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisian government reduces the duration of the night curfew
The Tunisian government has alleviated the country’s night curfew, changing its starting hour from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The ending hour of the curfew remains unchanged: 5 a.m. The shortening of the night curfew’s duration coincides with the start of the Islamic month of Ramadan.
Apr. 10, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia enforces mandatory COVID-19 tests for incoming travelers upon arrival
Starting April 18, it has become mandatory for all travelers entering Tunisia to undergo a test for COVID-19 upon their arrival, even if they have undergone tests before their trip. If the test results are positive, travelers must undergo mandatory quarantine. The new measures are applicable in all of Tunisia’s air, sea, and land entry points.
Apr. 18, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisian government reduces the price of COVID-19 screening tests
The Tunisian government has reduced the price of COVID-19 screening tests from TND 209 (EUR 62.7) to TND 170 (EUR 51). The decision aims to encourage citizens to take tests if they suspect having contracted the coronavirus and to facilitate the mass testing of employees.
Apr. 22, 2021

ALGERIA – Algerian government reduces the duration of the night curfew
The Algerian government has reduced the duration of the country’s night curfew by one hour. The curfew currently runs from midnight to 4 a.m., instead of from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Algeria’s night curfew only concerns nine Wilayas (governorates): Batna, Biskra, Blida, Tebessa, TiziOuzou, Algiers, Jijel, SidiBel Abbes, and Oran. The remaining 49 governorates where the COVID-19 pandemic is relatively under control are not concerned by the night curfew. The current curfew is scheduled to end on May 22, but it could witness an extension, depending on the country’s epidemiological situation.
Apr. 22, 2021

Economy

MOROCCO – S&P Global Ratings downgrades Morocco’s currency ratings to BB+
S&P Global Ratings has downgraded Morocco’s long-term foreign and local currency ratings by one level, from BBB- to BB+. The financial intelligence company cited Morocco’s economic contraction and the growing budget deficit as the reason behind its decision. The new rating has a stable outlook. S&P previously had a negative outlook on Morocco’s rating.
Apr. 2, 2021

MOROCCO – World Bank improves its economic growth forecast for Morocco in 2021
The World Bank has improved its economic growth forecasts for Morocco in 2021 from 4.0% (forecast in January 2021) to 4.2%. The new forecast is based on the positive outlook of Morocco’s agricultural campaign, the progress of the vaccination campaign, and the country’s monetary policy. The World Bank also predicts Morocco’s current account deficit to increase from 3.0% of the GDP in 2020 to 3.5% in 2021, while the budget deficit is expected to decline from 7.7% in 2020 to 6.5% in 2021. Finally, the World Bank predicts Morocco’s public debt to increase from 77.8% of the GDP in 2020 to 78.4% in 2021, while the inflation rate should grow from 0.7% in 2020 to 1.1% in 2021.
Apr. 2, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisia witnesses record annual increase in citrus exports
Tunisia’s exports of citrus fruits have witnessed a record annual increase of 57% between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 agricultural seasons. Since the start of the new agricultural season in October 2020, Tunisia has exported 15,246 tonnes of citrus fruits, compared to 9,699 tonnes in the previous season. The value of Tunisia’s citrus exports stood at TND 31.0 mn (EUR 9.3 mn), up from TND 22.3 mn (EUR 6.7 mn) in the 2019-2020 season. France imported 67% of Tunisia’s citrus exports (10,293 tonnes), followed by Libya (4,756 tonnes). Other importers of Tunisian citruses are Qatar, Kuwait, and Canada.
Apr. 2, 2021

TUNISIA – Tunisian trade deficit declines by 12.4% in the first quarter of 2021
Tunisia’s trade deficit has declined by 12.4% in the first quarter of 2021. It stood at TND 3,069.3 mn (EUR 920.8 mn), compared to TND 3,505.6 mn (EUR 1,051.7 mn) in the first quarter of 2020. The decline in the trade deficit is due to a 6.2% increase in Tunisia’s exports in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, along with a lower increase of imports (1.5%).
Apr. 12, 2021

ALGERIA – World Bank predicts slow economic recovery in Algeria throughout 2021-2022
The World Bank has predicted that the pace of Algeria’s economic recovery will remain slow for 2021 and 2022. The main reason behind the forecast is the slow pace of the country’s vaccination campaign, which “suggests that partial containment measures could remain in place until 2022.” The World Bank also cites “falling employment and firm revenues, and low consumer and business confidences” as factors that could limit private consumption and investment.
Apr. 2, 2021

ALGERIA – Port of Algiers records a 20.3% decline in traffic in 2020
The port of Algiers, Algeria’s largest port, has recorded an annual traffic decline of 20.3%. In 2020, the port recorded 1,573 ship arrivals, compared to 1,974 arrivals in 2019. The volume of merchandise that transited through the port consequently recorded a decline, from 11.7 million tonnes in 2019 to 9.0 million tonnes in 2020 (-22.6%). Meanwhile, the largest decline in traffic concerned passengers. In 2020, only 31,643 people transited through the port of Algiers, marking an annual decline of 90.6%.
Apr. 29, 2021

Key Economic Indicators