Qatar, Morrocco sign aid deal worth $1.25bn

Qatar and Morocco have signed an aid deal worth $1.25bn, part of a five-year package of financial assistance extended by Gulf states to the North African kingdom to help it strengthen its economy.

Four Gulf states – Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates – agreed in 2012 to provide aid worth a total $5bn to Morocco in the period 2012-2017 to build up its infrastructure, strengthen its economy and foster tourism.

Each of the four countries has committed $1.25bn to Morocco for the whole five-year period.

King Mohamed VI signed the accord late on Friday with HH the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Morocco is under heavy pressure from international lenders to reduce its budget deficit after spending heavily on food and energy subsidies and higher public sector salaries in 2011 and 2012 to help defuse social tensions.

Morocco has budgeted to receive a total $1bn in aid from the Gulf states for 2014. It hopes to cut its budget deficit to 4.9% of gross domestic product next year from an estimated 5.5% in 2013.

The Gulf states have agreed a similar package of aid, also worth a total $5bn over a five-year period, for Jordan.

Emir meets Moroccan PM: HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani yesterday met in Marrakesh with Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelillah Benkirane. During the audience they reviewed the relations between the two countries and means to develop them in addition to other topics of mutual interest. The audience was attended by a number of members of the official delegation accompanying HH the Emir.

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