Morocco extends period for duty-free meat imports as unrelenting drought impacts local production

MOROCCO – The Moroccan Administration of Customs and Indirect Taxes (ADI) announced that the government has decided to extend the suspension of red meat import duties, in a memo issued on January 30.

The waiver which was introduced last year has been extended for a year December 2023 as the government tries to secure local supply which has been heavily impacted by a prolonged drought in the country.

The drought is causing a scarcity of animal feed leading to higher costs of meat production which has in turn resulted in a noticeable drop in the supply leading to the inevitable increase of red meat prices in the local markets.

With the extension, red meat imports with a minimum weight of 500 kilograms and a quota of 200,000 will not be subject to import duties.

ADI also specifies that this measure eliminates the minimum weight of domestic cattle, which is expected to keep the national market adequately supplied.

Mustapha Baitas, a government spokesperson, recently said that eradicating the minimum on cattle imports aims to encourage suppliers to bring cattle of various weights for slaughter to quickly supply the national market. 

Import waivers on meat imports is one of the measures put in place following last year’s drought in an effort to mitigate price hikes and supply shortages in the country.

The Kingdom also launch a nearly 10 billion dirhams ($1 billion) aid program to help its agriculture industry, which has been hit hard by a particularly acute drought in recent years.

The emergency plan “aims to mitigate the effects of delay in rainfall, to alleviate the impact on agricultural activity and to provide assistance to the farmers and livestock breeders affected”, the royal palace said in a statement.

The World Bank also chipped in to support Morocco’s food security campaign with the approval of a US$180 million loan to support resilient and sustainable agriculture in the county.

Morocco’s appetite for red meat continues to trend higher despite climate change adversely affecting the country’s capacity to rear livestock for meat.

Previous data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Maritime Fisheries showed that Moroccans consume an average of 17.3 kg of meat per capita per year (in 2018) while the meat produced was approximately 603,000 tonnes per annum.

The floodgates of imports are however closed to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland for food safety reasons for a period of one year starting January 1.

Customs and Excise Administration in Morocco revealed that the decision to stop imports was made by the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture, due to the health status of livestock in the UK and Northern Ireland.

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