Morocco is currently about to start reducing industrial protection in the context of its association agreement with the European Union. However, agriculture, which represents the major income source for the disfavored rural population, is the sector that is most strongly protected. In this study, a general equilibrium model of Morocco is used as a laboratory for analyzing the short-run equilibrium effects of alternative scenarios for reduced protection for agriculture and industry. The model, which is calibrated to a Social Accounting Matrix for 1994, is distinguished by an explicit separation of activities, factors, and households into rural and urban. It has a detailed treatment of agricultural and other rural production, the labor market, and households (disaggregated into four types: rural poor, rural non-poor, urban poor, urban non-poor). The simulation results indicate that reduced agricultural protection would generate significant aggregate welfare gains at the same time a significant part of the disadvantaged rural population would lose strongly. The impact of industrial tariff cuts is small. The outcome is less unfavorable for rural households over a slightly longer time frame where labor migration between agriculture, the rest of the rural economy and urban areas is feasible. The results for simulations that introduce compensatory measures targeting the rural population suggest that the dilemma presented by the tradeoff between aggregate and rural welfare can be overcome: in simulations introducing trade liberalization together with government transfers to owners of rainfed agricultural resources, or moderate improvements in rural skill levels or productivity in rural non-agriculture, the gains from trade liberalization are shared relatively evenly among all household groups.
a rural-urban general equilibrium analysis of reduced protection
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)