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Emerging Markets in Egypt and Morocco

Sometimes referred to by the acronym MENA (Middle East-North Africa), this region of emerging markets is one of great risk offering potentially huge returns. Many, although not all, of the countries in the region draw their economic power from petroleum, and many, although not all, are subject to political instability resulting from religious tensions. Open wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created floods of refugees and fears of terrorism.

Many African countries have markets classified as frontier — a step below an actively emerging market.

Egypt

  • Type of government: Republic

  • Major industries: Cement, chemicals, construction, energy, food processing, hydrocarbons, light manufacturing, metals, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, textiles, tourism, transportation

  • Currency: Egyptian pound (or gineih)

  • English-language newspaper: Daily News Egypt

Independent since 1952, Egypt’s 80 million people make it the largest nation in the Middle East and a formidable political and military power. The country doesn’t have a lot of farmland, nor does it have oil. Tourists have been scared off by terrorist attacks that target them. Still, people are investing in energy, transportation, and telecommunications, and the government is working hard to sustain the progress made since independence. The fun of investing in emerging markets is trying to figure out which way a country will go, so Egypt is fun. Keep an eye on it.

Morocco

  • Type of government: Constitutional monarchy

  • Major industries: Construction, energy, food processing, leather goods, phosphate rock mining and processing, textiles, tourism

  • Currency: Moroccan dirham

  • English-language newspaper: Morocco NewsLine.com

Morocco has limitations on the press, and Islamic law is important. (Almost everyone in Morocco is Muslim.) But Morocco’s King Muhammad VI and his government have worked hard to keep the economy stable and to upgrade the country’s infrastructure. It hasn’t been easy, as only about half the population is literate, and the recession in Europe has hurt Morocco’s market for exports and tourism.

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