The nine fuel companies operating in the fuel market in Morocco are to pay a $180 million fine in a settlement of an anti-trust lawsuit, the country’s competition council announced on Thursday.
The fines were imposed following the company’s failure to comply with free competition rules, including price fixing – a practice whereby two companies or more artificially determine the price of a commodity or a service.
In a statement, the Competition Council said that it had successfully reached an agreement with a number of Moroccan fuel companies to pay the settlement’s imposed fine, as well as file quarterly reports on performance detailing sales and inventory. The reports would be filed for a period of five years.
In October 2022, the Competition Council released a report pointing to the many irregularities within the fuel market, and contending that predatory practices could be a reason behind the rising fuel prices in the country.
The Competition Council warned that the fuel market is highly concentrated with SMDC Afriquia, TotalEnergies Marketing Maroc, and Energy Vivo controlling 52% of fuel imports in Morocco.
The report further argued that fuel prices in Morocco do not always correlate with supply and demand principles as prices remain high even as prices on the global market take a downward trajectory.
In addition to predatory practices, the report pointed out that laws regulating the market are largely outdated and restrict access to new companies, resulting in a highly concentrated market.
“The fuel market in Morocco is regulated with outdated laws that date back to 1973. Despite liberalizing the market in 2015, there were no further efforts to implement that liberalization by drafting proper regulations,” Economist Mohammed Jadir told Morocco World News.