A new congressional caucus has been launched to promote a US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA), reported the US Trade Office. The caucus will be the first formed in support of a Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) proposed by US President Bush.
The introduction of the Morocco FTA Congressional Caucus coincides with the fourth round of FTA negotiations between the United States and Morocco, which started Monday, July 21, 2003 in Washington. The initial round of negotiations commenced in January 2003 in Washington, with subsequent rounds in Geneva and Rabat.
The United States expects to complete negotiations by the end of the year. The FTA negotiations include twelve working groups: international property rights (IPR), services, market access, textiles, government procurement, customs, environment, labor, legal, telecommunications, investment and agriculture. Additionally, there is a non-negotiating group focused on outreach and communication.
Morocco is an emerging market at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East that imports $11 billion worth of goods and products each year. The United States currently exports approximately half a billion dollars worth of products to Morocco each year. Leading exports include aircraft, corn, and machinery. Recently, exports of fabrics and pharmaceuticals have increased significantly.
Currently, US products entering Morocco face an average tariff of over 20 percent, while Moroccan products are subject to an average tariff of four percent as they enter the United States.
The democratically elected Moroccan government has launched a comprehensive economic reform program that is aimed at reducing inflation, developing the tourism sector and liberalizing and privatizing key sectors, such as telecommunications. The government of Morocco has also launched an initiative to streamline investment procedures and eliminate barriers to foreign and domestic investment.
The US is seeking to eliminate tariffs and other duties on trade between Morocco and the United States on the broadest possible basis, improve intellectual property rights protection, and eliminate barriers in Morocco's services markets. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )