Plans to introduce zero rate import tariffs in Morocco for European vehicles have been attacked by an importers’ group.

Local reports said an organisation of importers of non-European cars has objected to the move, which it says, could affect up to 40% of the market.

GIVET (Groupment des Importateurs de Vehicules pour l’Equite Tarifaire) has said the tariff for European models will drop to zero from 2012 as a free trade deal with the EU kicks in.

Morocco imposes a 37.5% import tariff on vehicles from outside EU borders and 6.5% for those within.

“Despite the big difference in tariffs now with European competitors, Asian cars have more than 40% share of the Moroccan market,” GIVET head Adil Bennani said.

“But with the zero tariffs rate, the situation would be difficult and our market shares will slump.”

Bennani is pressing the Moroccan government to reduce the tariff difference between Asian cars and those from Europe to 10%.

Morocco is poised for strong automotive growth as an increasingly affluent middle class and economic improvement fuels vehicle demand.

Some forecasts say sales will grow from the current 100,000 per year to 250,000 by 2015.

Government sources suggested Asian automakers were not thought to be looking to set up production sites in Morocco, with one minister saying: “Building such factories here is not economically viable because the market is still relatively small.”