US and Morocco conclude free trade agreement
Morocco and the United States concluded a free-trade agreement (FTA) yesterday designed to remove tariff barriers and open markets to industries, farmers and consumers in both countries.
The agreement is the second the United States has reached with an Arab country; the first with Jordan in 2001. It is a major step in US President George 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.
"This agreement covers all agricultural products and will open Morocco's market to US farm products," said US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick. "Poultry, beef and wheat will benefit from greater access under tariff rate quotas, and frankly this will help US farmers and ranchers to get a new tool to compete against Canada and the EU in Morocco's markets," he said.
Tariffs on agricultural products were a particularly sensitive issue in the negotiations given the importance of the agricultural sector to the Moroccan economy. Zoellick added that under the agreement, benefits would also accrue to Morocco's agricultural sector, pointing out for example, the availability of cheaper inputs such as animal feed.
The US trade representative identified other sectors that might benefit from this agreement as telecommunications, computer related services, tourism, energy, transport, financial services, insurance and entertainment.
The US annually exports $475 million in products such as aircraft, corn and machinery to Morocco, a small percentage of overall US exports. Zoellick said the United States expects the agreement to boost that figure significantly with the elimination of Morocco's tariffs, which currently average 20 percent on US goods entering the country. Morocco faces average tariffs of only four percent on exports to the United States.— (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)