BIM Birlesik Magazalar, known as BIM, is a popular discount grocery chain operating in Turkey and other countries, including Morocco.
Rabat – Morocco’s Minister of Industry Moulay Hafid Elalamy expressed concerns about the economic stagnation that Moroccan local shops and markets are suffering due to the expansion of Turkish discount grocery chain BIM in Morocco.
During a parliamentary session at the House of Representatives, on Monday, Elalamy said that BIM has caused the closure of dozens of local shops and markets.
“I summoned the president of BIM years ago, and I told him it was impossible to continue our relations,” Elalamy told MPs.
He said that at least 60 shops close each time the Turkish company opens a branch in their neighborhood.
BIM opened its doors in 1995 with 21 stories, offering discounts on good products.
Since then, the supermarket chain has expanded its presence not only in Turkey, but also in other countries including Morocco.
The retail company’s presence in Morocco reached 497 stores, with 55 new stores opened in 2019. BIM has 320 other stores in Egypt.
BIM is not only challenging shops, but also bigger local chains in the country, including Marjane, Aswak Assalam, and Carrefour.
Regular BIM customer Houda M. told Morocco World News that BIM offers huge discounts.
“In addition to its proximity, the stores really offer good deals. They have good quality products from Turkey which are not available in other supermarkets, such as Marjane and Aswak Assalam. Prices are significantly lower, too!” she said.
Another customer, Hajar, said that the quality and services in the Turkish mini-stores are favorable for Moroccans, especially the prices.
“Every Friday, customers can find products, including homeware and makeup at very low prices and great quality. We certainly want BIM to stay and I am not buying what the minister has said on the BIM stores” she said.
In addition to concerns over BIM, Elalamy shared negative outcomes resulting from the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Turkey which came into effect in 2006, two years after the two countries signed the deal.
Elalamy said that the deficit due to FTA with Turkey has reached MAD 18 billion, since Morocco does not import hydrocarbons from Ankara.
The most problematic sector from Turkey in Morocco is the textiles industry which caused Morocco to lose 44,000 jobs in the sector in 2017.
The trade deficit is also a growing problem for Morocco, Elalamy warned.
During his speech at the House of Representatives, Elalamy also spoke about the deficit caused by FTAs with other countries, including the US.
He said that the deficit caused by FTA with the US has reached $20 billion, including $15 billion in the hydrocarbon sector, and $3.5 billion in the aircraft sector, especially Boeing.
With Europe, FTA with EU countries amounts to MAD 75 billion, annually, including a deficit of MAD 20 billion in the hydrocarbon sector alone.
However, the official described the cooperation between the EU states and Morocco as profitable.
Elalamy said that the EU deficit decreased due to Morocco’s import of MAD 18 billion and exports worth MAD 60 billion in the automotive industry.
The only FTA operating with a deficit that needs to be reviewed is the one with Turkey.
Morocco’s government gave Turkey a 15 day period to find a solution and review the regulations of the deal. The period has expired and Turkey has asked for an additional week to discuss solutions or dissolve the deal.
It remains to be seen whether Elalamy and his Turkish counterpart will be able to save the FTA.