With the modernisation of financial laws, it has also been necessary to reform and adapt Moroccan foreign exchange regulation. On November 16, 2011, the legislator enacted the Moroccan Office of Exchange (MOE) Circular, in the process compiling and codifying 815 articles for all regulation applicable to foreign exchange.
ACCOUNTS & CURRENCY: The Circular permits local banks to open accounts in dirham and foreign currency for corporate and individual clients. Local banks can also open bank accounts abroad on behalf of their own clients for the purpose of the clients’ transactions.
Moroccan or foreign non-residents may import foreign currencies or negotiable instruments in Morocco up to a maximum value of Dh100,000 (€8890), provided these are declared at Customs when entering the country. In addition, foreign or Moroccan citizens that are resident within the kingdom may also import foreign currencies or negotiable instruments up to a value of Dh100,000 (€8890), provided these are declared when entering the territory and the currency is exchanged into dirham within 30 days.
IMPORTS & EXPORTS: The Circular regulates the importation of goods into Morocco, stipulating that locally established entities may import goods without prior authorisation from the MOE provided that an import licence has been issued by Customs. The payment of imported goods may occur in any currency listed on the Moroccan currency exchange. The Circular also regulates the import of services. The general spirit is to allow cross-border payments by local entities to foreign service-providers subject to the local bank of the importer being provided with sufficient evidence (e.g., contract, invoices) that the services were effectively performed. Other rules and formalities apply depending on the types of imported goods and services.
The export of goods is also regulated by the Circular. Prior authorisation from the MOE is not required if an export licence is obtained from the Customs authorities by the exporter. The latter can be paid in any currency listed on the Moroccan currency exchange. If the goods exported were sold in a currency other than Moroccan dirham, the exporter must convert the sale price into Moroccan dirham within 180 days from the Customs clearance. Other rules and formalities apply depending on the types of exported goods. As regards the export of services by locally based entities, the Circular states that these entities must exchange the currencies they received in consideration of the services rendered to the out-of-state client/contractor, within 30 days following the payment.
FOREIGN INVESTMENT: The Circular defines foreign investment as any investment in Morocco in a currency other than Moroccan dirham carried out by foreign entities or Moroccan citizens residing out-of-state. Foreign investment may consist of (i) the acquisition of shares in Morocco, (ii) the creation of a Moroccan company, or (iii) the grant of a loan in a foreign currency.
The general rule is that the foreign investor must notify the MOE of his investment within six months of the transaction. This will enable him to benefit from the repatriation of capital gains, benefits and the transfer of the proceeds of his investment in case of sale.
With respect to the cross-border transfer of investment proceeds to foreign investors, the rules vary depending on the type of investment. For instance, the Circular allows foreign investors to freely repatriate their assets listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange, but more stringent rules may apply for other types of investment. For instance, the export of the proceeds of the enforcement of a security package such as a mortgage is submitted to the prior approval of the MOE.
The code also provides a set of rules regarding investment made by Moroccan entities in other countries.
These may consist of acquiring shares in out-of-state companies or granting loans to entities abroad. Here again, various forms and documents must be submitted to the MOE to allow the cross-border investment payments to be made. The limit to investment funds sent abroad is Dh100m (€8.89m) for destinations in Africa and Dh50m (€4.45m) for investments elsewhere.