American official: U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement to strengthen Morocco's economy
The recently inked U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement will strengthen Morocco's economy and promote social and political development through associated legal reforms, according to Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Peter Algeier.
"We believe it will help to build economic, political and social stability in Morocco, and it signals to other reforming countries in the region the benefits of pursuing market liberalization policies and a closer economic relationship with the United States," said Algeier Wednesday testimony before the House Committee on Ways and Means.
"Our trade strategy toward the region is predicated on the idea that sustained economic growth can best be brought to the region through internally generated reforms and market-based trade-liberalizing policies, which are embodied in this agreement," he said in comments quoted by the USINFO website.
Algeier said that the agreement provides for duty-free trade on 95 percent of traded products upon its implementation.
He also said that in addition to opening markets to increased tariff-free trade in manufactured goods, agricultural products and services, the agreement ensures higher standards of protection for the environment and for labor.
"Each government commits to promote high levels of environmental protection, to strive to ensure that its labor laws provide for labor standards consistent with internationally recognized standards, and that they will not weaken or reduce labor and environmental laws to attract trade or investment," he said.
He said that the agreement also addressed other issues of economic and political concern such as transparency and bribery.
Responding to congressional concerns about the agreement's protections for intellectual property rights (IPR), Algeier said that the agreement contains a "comprehensive chapter on intellectual property in that it covers patents, trademarks, copyright issues, and basically brings the Moroccan practice in law up to the sort of standards that we have here in the United States."
"There are streamlined procedural rules for people bringing copyright and trademark claims. There are effective remedies, which include statutory damages. And enforcement officials may act on their own authority in border cases and criminal IPR cases, so they don't even have to wait for a particular petition to be brought to them. They do not have to have a formal complaint," he said. (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)