Morocco-US trade talks expected to be completed by year's end
The United States expects to complete negotiations of a US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by the end of 2003, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).
The United States seeks to liberalize trade with Morocco through multilateral, regional and bilateral initiatives. Announced by US President Bush and King Mohamed VI in 2002, the negotiations for a US-Morocco FTA are a central element of this strategy.
The agreement will be an important first step in Bush's plan to promote trade expansion and economic reforms in North Africa and the Middle East leading to a Middle East Free Trade Area within a decade.
In 2002, US Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick traveled to Morocco to discuss an FTA with Moroccan officials and assess the prospects for further strengthening economic and commercial ties between the United States and Morocco. The FTA will be the capstone of these efforts, complementing the existing Bilateral Investment Treaty, Open Skies, and Trade and Investment Framework Agreements.
US annual imports from Morocco average $381 million. The US annually exports $475 million in products such as aircraft, corn and machinery to Morocco. There are significant growth prospects for US products such as oilseeds and feed grains and products and services in the energy, tourism, and environmental sectors.
Negotiations commenced in January 2003 in Washington, DC. Three subsequent rounds have yielded significant progress toward a comprehensive agreement that will cover non-agricultural and agricultural goods and government procurement, liberalize services and strengthen investment, intellectual property rights, labor and environmental protections.
The Government of Morocco has launched a comprehensive economic reform program aimed at reducing inflation, developing the tourism sector, liberalizing the telecommunications and other key sectors, and improving the business climate for foreign investment. With its emphasis on the rule of law, improved competition and trade liberalization, the FTA will enhance and solidify these reforms.
The US is focusing technical assistance and development programs to help Morocco meet the FTA's significant obligations and to advance Morocco's efforts to reform sectors such as agriculture. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)