Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Moroccan economy 6.5 pct growth

US President George W. Bush talks with His Maj...Image via WikipediaRABAT (Reuters) - Morocco's economy grew 6.5 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, down from 7 percent a quarter earlier, but almost treble the rate a year ago as farms recovered from drought and telecoms and banking expanded.

Postal and telecom activity grew 13.6 percent year-on-year, up from 10.5 percent in the second quarter of 2007, while financial services grew 19.4 percent, up from 18 percent, the state High Planning Commission said late on Monday.

In the same quarter a year ago, the economy expanded 2.6 percent year-on-year.

Over a third of Moroccans are reliant on agriculture for their livelihood and cyclical droughts regularly take their toll on household incomes in the country of 33 million.

The government has sought to reduce the economy's exposure to farming and reverse decades of sluggish investment in industry and services, with financial sector reforms slashing lending rates and prompting a boom in consumer credit.

The result has been a pick-up in industries reliant on domestic demand such as construction, telecoms and retail.

The finance ministry said in July it expected economic growth of 6.3 percent annually over the next four years as investor-friendly reforms kick in and the kingdom pushes into new export industries and services.

Agriculture grew 11.2 percent in the second quarter, paring a 21.6 percent slump in the April-June period of 2007. Non-farm growth was 5.8 percent.

Manufacturing industries grew 4.3 percent, compared to 4.4 percent a year earlier and the construction sector expanded by 10.6 percent compared to 14.1 percent in the second quarter of last year.

Group Addoha's profits up 40%

A view on the Boulevard de Paris in central Ca...Image via WikipediaRABAT, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Moroccan property firm Addoha ADH.CS reported a 40 percent increase in its first-half net profit on Tuesday, but its shares failed to trade as analysts said the figure was below expectations. Net profit grew to 319.3 million dirhams ($40.4 million) while operating profit doubled to 483.9 million dirhams on a 78 percent rise in turnover to 1.301 billion dirhams, the Casablanca-based company said in a statement.

"Addoha was a big disappointment -- to now people have been expecting something around 2 billion dirhams profit in the full year," said a Casablanca analyst who asked not to be named.

Addoha's stock was suspended limit-down, with bids of 120 dirhams well below a market trading limit of 157.95 dirhams. The wider MASI index .MASI was down 3.9 percent at 12,470 points at 1319 GMT.

A recent drop in the benchmark index has almost wiped out gains earlier in the year that came against a backdrop of sliding world stock indexes.

Real estate firms powered the biggest Maghreb stock market to a record high earlier in the year as investors sought to benefit from a local building boom and accelerating private sector investment in the country of 33 million.

But analysts have voiced concern over the real estate sector outlook in recent weeks as the global credit crisis threatens to dry up much of the inward investment that underpins the market.

Addoha shares soared after a listing in 2006. Last year it sold new equity to fund a series of land purchases and bought 50 percent of Spanish builder Fadesa's Moroccan arm in a deal worth 1.3 billion dirhams.

Fadesa's parent company Martinsa Fadesa was put into administration in July after falling victim to the collapse of Spain's housing market.

Addoha said on Tuesday it expected to complete the acquisition of land from Fadesa's Moroccan business before the end of the year and was upbeat about its earnings prospects.

"Sales and the net result in the second half of 2008 should register a clear increase compared to the previous half," it said, citing an expected jump in deliveries of new homes. (Reporting by Tom Pfeiffer; editing by Simon Jessop)

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Morocco and the building boom

A view of King Hassan II Mosque.Image via Wikipedia Investments in infrastructure, housing and tourism are building blocks essential to Morocco 's future: they promote long-term economic growth, create a positive image of the kingdom, and seduce foreign investors. But recent spikes in the costs of construction materials have many worried that the breakneck speed of development could soon prove unsustainable, as demand outpaces supply.

Bull Market in Construction Sector
Construction in Morocco is entering into its most bullish phase ever, with the country launching touristic accommodations, luxury real estate, infrastructural projects, and social housing developments in numerous regions. In the past three years, The North African kingdom has emerged as a real estate investment destination. The government, investing heavily in this image, is financing large-scale building projects in various sectors to raise infrastructure up to the level of international standards, increase tourism and foreign investment, and resolve the perpetual shortage of low-
income housing.

The government's Plan Azur is part of the strategic national development plan, Vision 2010, and aims to increase tourism to 10 million annual visitors by the end of the decade. Plan Azur outlines the development of large-scale luxury resorts in six coastal regions, in partnership with major developers in the UAE and abroad. The six resorts, all currently in construction, will add 111,000 beds to the kingdom's tourism capacity and create 200,000 direct jobs, according to government figures. European and Gulf investors are playing an important role in these and other real estate developments, particularly the Spanish company Fadesa, and Gulf investors like Dubai HoldingDubai Holding and EmaarEmaar, who have signed investment conventions with the government for a total of $9 billion over the next decade.

As it breaks ground on high-end accommodations for Moroccan elites and tourists, the government is also investing in less lucrative but sorely needed housing for the country's poor, who make up 17-20% of the population. Social housing construction increased from 113,000 units in 2005 to 115,000 units in 2006. The Minister of Housing and Urbanization aims to increase yearly construction of housing units to 150,000 by 2009, and to eliminate all slums by 2012. Rapid urbanization has made providing low-
income housing a major priority: 55% of Morocco 's population currently resides in urban areas, and this number is increasing each year. The housing shortage has created an urban blight of sprawling shantytowns in each major city, which have proven a hothouse for Islamist extremism in recent years.

The third national development strategy affecting the construction sector is infrastructure. New roads, ports, technological facilities, and airports are preconditions for achieving ambitious tourism goals and a more favorable business climate. Alongside high-end real estate and social housing developments, infrastructural improvements are helping business boom at construction companies. The highly-anticipated TangierMed Port , strategically situated on the Straits of Gibraltar, is currently adding a third and fourth container platform to the two already in operation. Airports are being built to optimize the Open Skies Agreement, which will link Morocco to Europe 's network of budget airlines and routes. Preparations for the arrival of the TGV and train station renovations add another dimension in the large-scale construction of public works.

High Prices: A Necessary Evil?
Solid economic growth and modernizing projects are having both positive and negative effects on Morocco 's construction sector. On the one hand, strong demand and burgeoning real estate values are providing a solid platform for the sector's continued growth. However, with demand at an all-time high, construction materials are selling for higher and higher prices, pushing up the costs of development projects and leading to lengthy delays. Spikes in the prices of essential materials like cement, steel, wood and aluminum could cast a dark shadow over this kingdom's sunny prospects.

Morocco 's leading construction company in terms of volume, turnover and number of employees is SGTM Construction. The company is delivering technically advanced work on some of Morocco 's most sophisticated projects, like the TangierMed Port , airports, and Plan Azur resorts. The government supplies 90% of SGTM's contracts. " Morocco is going in a very good direction, for bringing the whole country up to speed," said Hamza Kabbaj, president of SGTM. "A lot of people think we're moving too fast. I think it's the only way to take the challenge. You have to deliver, you have to give people roads, airports, bridges and ports in order to be able to do business and have investors come in and establish companies. Yes, it will cost money, it will be challenging, it will cost a lot of trouble sometimes, but we have to go through that in order to establish a good base and a good infrastructure for Morocco to be able to meet the challenge."

In part, local builders blame an international economic downturn for the elevated prices of building materials. Record oil prices, rising freight overhead costs, and elevated demand are driving up costs everywhere. Booming cities like Dubai and Singapore have recently reported record highs on building materials, in particular since June 2008. Malaysia , Indonesia , and Burma all recently imposed restrictions on log-cutting, driving up the cost of wood. Developing economies in Asia , the Middle East , and South America are experiencing construction booms and global demand is at an all-time high.

High Demand, Local Profiteering
Some builders are expressing concern that local conditions in the Moroccan construction sector are pushing prices up even higher. For instance, one construction executive attributed high prices to market manipulation among local cement and steel providers. Public-owned SonasidSonasid, an affiliate of Arcelor/Mittal, the largest steel producer in the world, furnishes Morocco 's construction-
ready steel. Builders report an increase of 25% in the price of steel, the main component used in building, since the beginning of 2008.

Importing construction-ready steel involves 16% customs tax, 3% handling rate, and transport costs. SonasidSonasid imports raw steel and transforms it into construction-ready steel, maintaining its stronghold on the market by adjusting prices to remain just slightly below fluctuating international rates, ensuring its dominance of local steel supply. "They're smart enough to position their price always just a little lower than international price plus the customs taxes so you know you definitely end up buying from them," the executive said.

As for cement, Morocco has one of the highest prices in the world. Whereas in Egypt a ton of cement costs $65, in Morocco it sells for as much as $100. This is partially related to the high local cost of the energy required to transform limestone into cement. But as demand reaches unprecedented levels, some builders are accusing the cement industry of price fixing. Demand for cement in Morocco is rising by an astonishing 10-12% per year, by one builder's estimation, and the Minister of Housing reports that cement consumption augmented by 50% between 2002 and 2007.

The CEO of one leading Casablanca construction company, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "The big cement producers all have the same prices. There's a very strong association of cement producers who sit together and say ok, the price now is this much, and next month, it will be this much. There is no competition." This is expected to change, however, as private investors plan to enter the market over the next few years, increasing competition.

High demand has also led to increased delays in the delivery of wood, which comes to Morocco mostly from Finland , Austria , and Romania . In 2007, companies expected a delay of two months for the delivery of wood. They are now waiting as long as ten months. Lower grade wood, particularly plywood, is available from China and Brazil . The price of wood has been increasing at 10-15% a year for the past three years, according to industry insiders.

Poorly trained personnel and an insufficient local supply of qualified technicians, engineers, and builders are also driving up costs in the construction sector. Price inflation has been reported as the small number of qualified, professional construction workers take advantage of increasing demand in the sector, to demand higher salaries and better working conditions. International construction companies with designs to soak up some of the country's excess demand are wooing workers away from local companies with higher wages and incentives.

Over the past two years, companies from China , Turkey , and Europe have been setting up operations and competing for Morocco 's shallow pool of qualified construction workers, technicians, and engineers. "Morocco is in full expansion mode, and building is booming," said Claude Larrousse, CEO of Groupe Abritez-Vous Chez Nous, a French company that develops and outfits high-tech tents and exterior covers, "but the problem we're seeing today and which will impact cost, is with workers who are increasingly hard to find and less-qualified." Renault is even planning on bringing in Romanian workers to provide labor for the company's factory in the Tangier Free Trade Zone. Morocco must provide technical training in the construction and public works sector to ensure a skilled workforce that will benefit from new jobs-creation in the sector.

Economic Impact
The building sector is not the only victim of accelerating costs. Rising prices for oil, food and other primary products on the domestic and international markets have generated widespread social unrest in Morocco , with recent violent protests taking place in the southern Sidi Ifni region and the northern town of Sefrou .

Luxury real-estate projects are often announced by long panels that cordon off the construction site, portraying elegant European tourists lounging poolside in front of Mediterranean mansions. These wall-sized advertisements must seem unjust to the inhabitants of the garbage-lined slums that ring these construction sites, and which will certainly be torn down by the time the development is finished. And while social housing projects are moving ahead, their construction generally proceeds at a much slower pace and with less efficiency than foreign-managed projects or those earmarked by the government as part of the Vision 2010 strategy.

Some politicians see higher taxes on developments as a means for a fairer distribution of wealth. Developers fear that such measures could slow down the construction sector and impede economic growth. A heated debate is brewing between Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi's government and developers, who claim that the building sector has been harmfully affected by new laws and regulations, a shortfall in property supply, and conflicts with the administration.

The passage of the 2008 Finance Law imposed a 15% corporate tax on developers, which will rise to 30% in 2009. The Finance Law also raises the VAT on sale prices from 14% to 20%. The National Federation of Property Developers (FNPI) responded to the law's passage by vowing to fight the VAT increase and demanding that the government preserve the tax breaks for council housing projects guaranteed under the 2000 Finance Act.

In a press statement, Housing Minister Taofiq Hijira said that "the state has to make significant expenditure due to the current situation, so its time for big property developers to adhere to this tax reform." With political groups struggling to lower the VAT on basic products for a population suffering from rising prices on primary goods, the government risks heightened social unrest if it sacrifices taxing luxury developments. On the other hand, the vitality of the construction sector must be maintained for national strategy plans like Vision 2010 to be carried out and guarantee economic growth.

Whatever the outcome of the tax battle, the government should consider certain measures to safeguard the construction sector and protect local builders from price inflation and foreign competition. Training programs and institutes for construction-related jobs are badly needed to bring the country's human resources potential up to speed with the sector's demand for skilled labor. Regulation of the domestic steel and cement industries would eliminate two significant local causes of inflation, leaving the country better equipped to deal with the unusual augmentations of prices on the international market.

In the end, while rising prices are causing some concern in the building industry, builders and investors remain overwhelmingly optimistic about Morocco 's prospects for the future. Hamza Kabbaj thinks there is still a margin for prices to increase without threatening the profitability of development. "If we build for higher prices, they're going to have to sell for higher prices, and this is compounded by rising land prices. Real estate has been going up so much in the last three years that developers and promoters, having bought expensive land, are now buying expensive construction, and so will have to sell expensive houses, buildings, and apartments. And this may be a problem for people that used to find Morocco to be a bargain. But prices are still much lower than in Europe , which gives Morocco a very strong position in the future real estate market."

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Saturday, 30 August 2008

Morocco, August 2008

Morocco, August 2008:

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Morocco booms during the credit crunch

Detail of a mosaic in Meknes, MoroccoImage via Wikipedia Developments in infrastructure lure tourism real estate investors

The North African country of Morocco looks set to become a new hotspot for people thinking of retiring to the sun, after a planned tunnel with Spain received ministerial backing. Recently, plans for a tunnel linking Morocco with Spain have gained steam. In an interview, Karim Ghellab, Morocco's minister of transportation said: "It's not easy to predict a date yet, but it is a project that will happen. It will completely change our world."

With several low-cost airlines already offering cheap flights to the country, the new tunnel is only going to improve access to the country for people looking to retire abroad.

According to a Moroccan property expert, Property Borders, foreign investment in the country is already at an all time high and 10 million tourists are expected to visit annually by 2010. Many travel accommodation professionals and real investment advisors report that property in Morocco is also showing impressive returns. A record number of Britons are buying property and experiencing capital gains of more than 20% per year.

The costal towns of south-west Morocco are particularly suitable for people thinking of buying a property to retire to. The stretch along the coasts of Morocco is exciting for those looking for a second home, because property prices are still very reasonable.

Marrakech – the desert pearl

Marrakech is the most coveted city in Morocco attracting the attention of real estate investors and European tourists looking to acquire a second home away from the hassle and bustle of congested cities. This has had a strong impact on prices of property in the red city. According to Moroccan real estate agents, house prices in Marrakech for instance have increased twofold or even threefold in certain parts of the city over the past few years.

The same trend has been noticeable among council dwellings that are increasingly being sold as secondary homes to middle-class Moroccans from other cities. Sales prices have reached Dh6, 000 (US$680) per sq m in many parts of the city. To alleviate the effects of rising prices on the local population, the government launched a new initiative that aims to build 30,000 apartments and houses, creating accommodation for 165,000 people, by 2007. The investment is expected to exceed Dh7.8 billion (US$880 million).

While Marrakech is a becoming relatively popular destination, the central Moroccan city however is more famed for one or two-day excursions for travellers wanting to get a first hand impression of Moroccan culture and history. Agadir and developing resorts in northern Morocco are still the prime destinations for tourists. Business travellers, on the other hand, head for Casablanca and Rabat.

Dubbed the “second home” for French tourists

Morocco remains the most attractive destination for French tourists. This is the outcome of an annual survey published in 2006 by the research centre of the Association of French tour operators (CETO), of which 80% of French travel agents are members. The survey highlights a rather negative picture for most countries surveyed compared to 2005, except for Morocco. The number of French outbound tourists decreased considerably in 2006 (5.17 million in 2005, 5.11 million in 2006). Under these adverse conditions, Morocco noticed a steady increase in inbound tourists from France. In 2006, there were over 2.4 million French tourists that visited Morocco.

Other than Morocco and Tunisia, which continue to attract French tourists year-on-year, other destinations considered competitors to Morocco lost their attraction in 2006. It is reported according to studies by the World Tourism Organisation that Turkey and Egypt recorded respectively a 26% and 38% decrease in the number of French tourists. Spain and Italy also respectively lost 5% and 3% of their French customers.

According to the Moroccan Ministry for Tourism, this performance is due mainly to the development of the air transportation sector and the aggressive marketing of Morocco as a safe and “second home” destination for French tourists. The increase in the number of flights between Morocco and France following the "Open Sky" policy in December 2005 has had a positive impact on the number of visitors as well as the pricing. The tourism authorities also acknowledge the effectiveness of the marketing campaigns they launched in conjunction with French tour operators in 2005 and 2006.

Tourism mass with class

It is not just the budget conscious traveller that Morocco is seeking to attract though. There is an increasing move towards capturing a slice of the upper end of the regional tourism market. The growing numbers of wealthy tourists have also served to kick start a flurry of development projects to cater to their every need.

Among the big ticket schemes is Colony Capital's US$2 billion resort on the Atlantic coast near Agadir that will cover some 2,000 acres and include up to five deluxe hotels, and offer varied outdoor activities for the well heeled. Another is a project by Kerzner International to develop a resort, complete with 500-room hotel, golf course, spa and casino, 80km outside of Casablanca. In mid-September 2006, the multinational developer Domaine Palm Marrakech signed an agreement with the Moroccan government to establish an international standard golf resort in Marrakech. Projected to cost US$215 million, the resort will add 5,300 beds to the country's accommodation capacity and will create more than 1,500 new jobs.

Similarly, the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort scheduled to open a luxury five-star resort in Marrakech in 2008. The complex started construction in early 2005 and will consist of the hotel and amenities as well as a series of five-star villas, some of which are to be sold to private ownership and then fully serviced by Four Seasons.

Morocco, the new Mollywood

The film industry is helping support travel and tourism efforts to market Morocco as a leading destination. When it comes to filming large Hollywood productions, Moroccan studios in Ourzazate (in the south) are more popular than ever. 2006 saw a large number of international film productions shot in the country. Paramount Vantage's "Babel," New Line Cinema's "The Nativity Story" and MGM's upcoming "Home of the Brave" were shot there in 2006 as was an episode of CBS' "The Amazing Race." Universal Pictures' "Charlie Wilson's War" just finished shooting in Morocco, while New Line's "Rendition" and Warner Independent Pictures' Paul Haggis mystery thriller "In the Valley of Elah" are lining up shoots for 2007.

As a result, Morocco has enhanced its marketing image. In late September 2006, Morocco, along with New Zealand, Fiji, Prague and Australia, was rated as one of the five “coolest places on earth” in a survey carried out by the British consultancy firm Superbrands. While it might be stretching things somewhat to describe a country as a brand, as was done in the survey, the accolade was welcomed by the Moroccan tourism industry, and the government, both of which are working hard to lift the sector's profile.

Source Euromonitor International

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English and Irish flock to Morocco to buy cheap property

Monarch Airlines Airbus A320-200 (G-MPCD) at G...Image via Wikipedia With the English & Irish now nudging the ever growing French & Spanish Moroccan property buyers, the scene is set for a busy 2007.

With the English & Irish now nudging the ever growing French & Spanish Moroccan property buyers, the scene is set for a busy 2007.

The French seem to be concentrating on the South of Morocco while the Spanish buyers of Moroccan property are staying closer to their Spanish homeland and concentrating on Northern Morocco
especially the emerging property areas of fashionable Tangiers, Asilah and now Larache.

Tangiers is having a complete facelift with the creative, intelligent former mayor of Marrakech Mohamed Hassad bringing the experience of Marrakech with him.

With new marina's planned for the area, 5 star luxury hotels, top class beachfront residential developments, trendy exclusive restaurants & nightclubs popping up everywhere
Tangiers dreams of reverting to its former past glory when it was one of the most fashionable resorts on the Mediterranean are in sight.

With the British now joining the race, not to be outdone by their Spanish counterparts, and the planned future tunnel linking Tangier with Spain
the time for investment is now.

Property Borders the UK's only Moroccan property experts advise property buyers who are trying to maximise their profits to act quick if their prime objective is capital gain.

Mustapha Mezouri one of the directors of Property Borders said "this year we have seen the market expand in the UK & overseas with buyers contacting us from as farafield as South America.
We have also sold property to clients from China, America and Australia. As an Arabic/English speaking agency we have had much interest from Middle Eastern countries who are aware of the property boom in Morocco and have followed their respective governments who are heavily investing their oil wealth in this emerging nation.

Property Borders have a wide range of property in all parts of Morocco to suit all budgets, most of our clients are looking for investment properties in Morocco but increasingly we are getting enquiries regarding
retirement in Morocco.

When Property Borders launched the Alcudia Smir resort close to the prestigious Marina Smir area it had a phenomenal response from buyers with the first phase of properties selling out in under 2 months.
"The second phase will be released shortly" says Mustapha of Property Borders "and we are expecting just as much a frenzy as the first phase of Alcudia Smir was".

The Paradise Golf & Beach Resort has proved very popular for investors and 2nd home buyers, it is located on the outskirts of Tangiers in a peaceful scenic environment. It is only 10 minutes from Tangier
International Airport which is currently being extended in preparation for the surge of tourists & the expected arrival of the low cost carriers like Monarch Airlines and Easy Jet.

Overlooking the white powdery beaches of the Atlantic Ocean, The Paradise Golf & Beach Resort has a perfect panoramic spot, with an 18 hole golf course due to be built it is extremely sought after.
Prices on this luxury resort start from just £52,463 for a 1 bed apartment.

Rental on the Paradise Golf & Beach Resort is expected to be in great demand according to Property Borders with both tourist and golfers alike. Investors also have the benefit of the major town of Tangiers being a mere 20 mins away & with the access to the proposed tunnel linking Morocco with Spain within easy reach.

So if you are fed up with the grey weather back home and crave some Moroccan sunshine why not give Property Borders the UK's only Moroccan run property agency a call and maybe just maybe we can produce some Moroccan magic for you.

0208 508 9905
Moroccan Hospitality With British Professionalism

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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Tanjah Beach & Golf Resort Morocco

City of Beverly Hills, CaliforniaImage via Wikipedia Breaking Moroccan property news from Moroccan property experts - Property Borders.

Property Borders can confirm workmen cabins have been installed on the long awaited Tanjah Beach & Golf Resort.

Mustapha Mezouri one of the directors of Property Borders has himself invested in the exclusive 5 star Tanjah Beach & Golf Resort and was in Morocco to witness this first positive move.

Commenting from Morocco Mustapha said “This is exciting news for all the investors that have patiently waited longer than we all anticipated. We now expect this 5 star development to move forward at a quicker pace.”

The Tanjah Beach & Golf Resort when completed will have an 18 hole golf course,
numerous villas & apartments many benefiting from either golf or sea views, a luxury hotel, and a long list of proposed facilities including a water park.

Mustapha Mezouri believes the Tanjah Beach & Golf Resort will be a fantastic investment for current and new investors even through prices have already risen
by a minimum of 30%

There is still great capital appreciation to be achieved in this up market development with several other prestigious developments starting to emerge in this area including Tanjah’s neighbour the prestigious Al Houra development.

Mustapha Mezouri predicts this area to be one of the most sought after areas in Morocco. With prices of some property at Al Houara running into several million pounds

Its no surprise many people are already calling this area the Beverley Hills of Morocco.

View property borders website

© Property Borders Copywrite

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