A trade dispute with South Africa over US chicken imports last year and an ongoing disagreement between the US and East African countries over used clothing imports indicate that some African countries are increasingly willing to forego privileged US market access, while the US government may move to repeal multilateral trade terms in favour of bilateral deals with selected African countries.
Despite big infrastructural investment and fresh funds allocated to improve living conditions in the Rif region, secessionist sentiment is again flaring and threatening more frequent outbreaks of riots and fighting with security forces.
Morocco’s King has at last intervened to force the formation of a weak and fractious Islamist-led government, which is likely to face strong internal and external resistance as it moves to implement crucial structural reforms.
While King Mohammed VI spearheads fresh diplomatic fervour and personally oversees high-spending ‘new technology’, banking, and massive infrastructure projects, he continues to stall the formation of an Islamist-led government, which will come under increased socio-economic pressure as oil prices rise in 2017.
While it is still too early to assess the longer term implications of a Trump presidency on Africa, trade agreements such as AGOA and security cooperation are unlikely to be significantly affected, yet various indicators point to risk of even slower African economic growth due to a stronger dollar and pledges to cut US foreign aid commitments.
Further outbreaks of economically and politically motivated unrest are likely in major cities over the next year and cause significant risk of business disruption, yet a mass uprising aimed at overthrowing the monarchy is unlikely.
A weak and fractious Islamist government will emerge from the latest legislative elections, indicating the royalist Makhzen will retain its political dominance and thwart parts of the IMF-sponsored reformist agenda.
Structural reform of pensions and taxation schemes, cutting of food staple subsidies, and inflation targeting are likely to increase the risk of disruptive strikes ahead of October parliamentary elections.
Both young ethnic Sahrawis disgruntled with Moroccan rule and returnees of militant Islamists from war zones in Libya and Syria will pose a growing threat of terrorist attacks to the kingdom over the next year.
The central bank aims to move towards a flexible exchange rate to benefit exports, especially car manufacturing and the aviation industry, yet shortfalls in bureaucratic capacity are likely to slow future investment plans.
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