The 2019 Africa Regional Integration Index measures countries’ integration with their neighbors based on five different dimensions.
Rabat – Morocco is the fourth-most regionally-integrated country in Africa, according to the 2019 Africa Regional Integration Index published by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the African Union (AU).
The index uses 16 indicators grouped into five dimensions to measure how well each country is integrated with its neighbors, as well as the state of regional integration for the African continent as a whole.
The report considers trade integration, productive integration, macroeconomic integration, infrastructural integration, and free movement of people in compiling the index.
Macroeconomic and infrastructural strengths
With an overall score of 0.430 out of 1, Morocco’s strengths are macroeconomic integration, infrastructural integration, and, to a lesser extent, productive integration.
The North African country ranked first continentally in terms of macroeconomic integration. The dimension takes into consideration three main indicators: Regional inflation differential, regional convertibility of currency, and number of bilateral investment treaties in force.
“Morocco is the most integrated country in Africa on the macroeconomic dimension. Scoring 0.809, Morocco ranks far ahead of the runner-up, Mauritius, which scores 0.633,” the report said.
“The top-performing countries in this dimension are those whose currencies are easily convertible to other currencies. This is the case for the Rwandan franc and the Moroccan dirham… Morocco… also [has] the greatest number of bilateral investment treaties presently in force, another factor that boosts their position on this dimension,” the report continued.
In terms of infrastructural integration, Morocco ranked fourth behind South Africa, Egypt, and Seychelles. The infrastructure-related index is based on the AfDB Infrastructure Development Index, as well as the proportion of intra-regional flight connections.
The report highlighted Morocco’s flight connections, saying “Morocco and Tunisia… enjoy good flight connections.”
Morocco is eighth in terms of productive integration. South Africa ranked first in the index, followed by Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The index takes into consideration the shares of intra-regional intermediate imports and exports and a merchandise trade complementarity index.
Weaknesses in trade and free movement of people
Meanwhile, Morocco ranked below average in the fields of trade integration and free movement of people.
The country ranked 39th in the continent in terms of trade integration. The index is based on the average intra-regional import tariffs, the shares of intra-regional exports and imports over GDP, the share of intra-regional trade, and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
Morocco is also one of the African states with the least continental freedom of movement for its people, ranking 48th out of 54 countries. The free movement of people index takes into consideration the number of countries that require a visa, the number of countries that may obtain a visa on arrival, and the Kigali Free Movement of Persons Protocol.
Good integration in regional trade blocs
In the AMU, Morocco is the second-most integrated country, ranking below Tunisia and above Algeria, Libya, and Mauritania.
“AMU is moderately integrated … It differs from other regional economic communities in that its weakness lies in the free movement of people and it performs relatively well on macroeconomic policies,” the report said.
The document also mentioned Maghrebian countries’ tendency to trade outside of Africa, mainly with the EU, which weakens their regional integration score.
In the CEN-SAD, Morocco is the third-most integrated country, outranked only by Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal.
“CEN-SAD’s third-most integrated country, Morocco, leads its peers on macroeconomic integration. Morocco has a near-perfect score on this dimension (0.941) and has the most bilateral investment treaties in force,” the report said.
The 2019 Africa Regional Integration Index is the second of its kind. In 2016, UNECA, AfDB, and the AU issued a report based on similar indicators. However, the report only measured the integration of African states within their trade blocs.
The 2016 report ranked Morocco as the most integrated country in the AMU and the ninth-most integrated country in the CEN-SAD. The rankings’ evolution between 2016 and 2019 demonstrates Morocco’s orientation to build more economic ties with African countries outside of its regional blocs, especially after Morocco returned to the AU in 2017.