Negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Morocco were officially launched this week. The move sends “a powerful signal to the Muslim world” that the SU will embrace nations willing to open their markets, stated US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.
Morocco is a key economic and political partner of the US in the Middle East, added Zoellick. The US has so far signed only four such FTAs, with key allies Canada, Mexico, Israel and Jordan, also an Arab constitutional monarchy like Morocco. The US has recently concluded FTAs with Chile and Singapore,
The United States conducted close to one billion dollar trade with the North African country in 2002. In 2001, US exports to Morocco totaled $286.1 million, mainly machinery, transport equipment, food and livestock. Moroccan exports to the US amounted to $434.6 million that year.
The United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced plans to support the negotiations. Specifically, USTDA may sponsor an orientation visit to the US for the Moroccan negotiating team on analytical and technical support for trade negotiations and the experience of other US free trade partners. In addition, the agency is considering funding other technical assistance related to the negotiations in the area of trade capacity building.
USTDA's Morocco program is one of the largest and most diverse country portfolios in the agency's Africa and Middle East Region. In 2001, the agency provided $2.5 million to Morocco, which helped support 18 activities, including eight feasibility studies, an orientation visit, definitional missions, and conferences.
The Bush administration’s ‘competitive liberalization’ strategy uses bilateral commerce agreements to create free-trade areas in support of global market opening. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )