UPDATE 1-Morocco trade deficit up 21.7 pct y/y in Jan-Feb

Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:11pm GMT

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RABAT, March 17 (Reuters) - Morocco's trade deficit rose 21.7 percent to 26.71 billion dirhams ($2.66 billion) year-on-year in January and February, the foreign exchange regulator said on Friday, driven by increased imports.

The trade gap was up from 21.95 billion dirhams at the end of February 2016, as spending on equipment imports rose 11.8 percent to 18.7 billion dirhams, and energy imports rose 53.4 percent to 10.37 billion dirhams.

Wheat imports fell 57.2 percent from a year earlier to 1.01 billion dirhams as a higher rainfall improved the harvest.

Total exports rose 1.5 percent from a year earlier to 38.14 billion dirhams, led by a 57.6 percent rise in auto exports. Phosphate sales grew 9.7 percent to 5.6 billion dirhams.

Tourism receipts fell by 4.4 percent, while remittances from the 4.5 million Moroccans who live abroad fell to 8.8 billion dirhams. Foreign direct investment fell 28.4 percent to 4 billion dirhams. (Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Gareth Jones and Richard Lough)

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