June 20, 2017 / 2:10 PM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 2-Morocco cenbank keeps benchmark rate unchanged at 2.25 pct

(Adds growth change)

RABAT, June 20 (Reuters) - Morocco’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2.25 percent on Tuesday, saying the current level remains appropriate.

The bank, known as Bank al-Maghrib, said it expected inflation to stay at 0.9 percent in 2017 and would accelerate to 1.6 percent in 2018.

It said it expects economic growth to reach 4.4 percent 2017, up from 1.2 percent last year due to recovery in cereal production.

Agriculture accounts for about 15 percent of the economy, and the bank said the sector’s growth would be 13.4 percent, rising from 9.6 percent last year. The ministry of agriculture expects cereal production to reach 10.2 million tonnes .

The bank expects the budget deficit to ease slightly to 3.6 percent of the GDP in 2017, and to 3.4 percent in 2018.

Due to oil price forecasts and stagnation in remittances and travel receipts, the bank expects the trade deficit to widen to 4.6 percent of the GDP in 2017, up from its earlier projection of 3.3 percent. (Reporting By Samia Errazzouki; editing by Patrick Markey)

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