Morocco may have avoided the upheaval of an Arab Spring revolution, but it faces other challenges due to its economic closeness to crisis-riddled Europe and heavy reliance on remittances.
The continent’s financial woes weigh heavy on the North African nation because Europe is “our first trading partner,” Moroccan Ambassador to the U.S. Mohammed Rachad Bouhlal told editors and reporters at The Washington Times.
While the impact of the euro crisis on that figure remains to be seen, a severe hit would surely be felt in Morocco, where the remittances augment government anti-poverty programs.
The unemployment rate is about 10 percent in Morocco, which is hoping for 4 percent GDP growth in 2012, although Mr. Bouhlal said that “is a bad figure because we were over 5.5 [percent] in 2011 and in 2010.”
Relations between the two nations reach back centuries. Morocco was the first nation in the world to recognize U.S. independence in 1777. The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship signed that year by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and King Muhammad III, still stands as America’s oldest non-broken diplomatic pact.
Though Morocco has a popularly elected parliament, its monarchy is among the world’s oldest. Stability between the nation’s royalty and its citizens set Morocco apart from the tense dynamics that ousted dictators in nearby Egypt, Libya and Tunisia last year.
In Morocco, the Arab Spring brought a series of protests held by the pro-democracy youth movement known as “20 February” - a day in 2011 in which large demonstrations were held.
King Mohammed responded a month later by promising fresh political reforms. Increased independence for the judiciary, along with more power for parliament and the prime minister, was subsequently woven into a new constitution passed by nationwide referendum last June.
“It’s not something that happened because we had demonstrations,” he said, pointing to major law changes, including those regarding women’s equality, enacted in 1999 upon the current king’s ascendance to the throne.View Entire Story
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Guy Taylor rejoined The Washington Times in 2011 as the State Department correspondent.
As a freelance journalist, Taylor’s work was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Fund For Investigative Journalism, and his stories appeared in a variety publications, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to Salon, Reason, Prospect Magazine of London, the Daily Star of Beirut, the ...
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