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Remarks by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro at the U.S. Morocco Business Development Conference
U.S. Department of State
December 4, 2012
*As Prepared for Delivery*
"It is a great pleasure to join you this morning for such a noteworthy conference. The U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement has been in force since 2006, and since then we’ve seen significant increases in business ties between our two countries. Given Morocco’s steady economic leadership and key location between Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, there is great potential for even more trade and investment.
"And that is the objective of today’s event organized by the State Department – to bring our private sectors together, along with government leaders, to explore how we jointly can take advantage of the excellent opportunities presented by our Free Trade Agreement to create thriving markets, innovative business sectors, and dynamic workforces.
"In the spirit of forging new ties between our countries, I am pleased to inform you that the United States and Morocco are concluding three new initiatives to help further boost our trade and investment relationship, initiatives that we will finalize tomorrow when Minister Amara and I co-chair the Joint Committee that reviews progress under the FTA. But given the importance of today’s gathering, I wanted to take this opportunity to give you advance notice of these significant developments. These initiatives are part of the United States’ Middle East/North Africa Trade and Investment Partnership (MENA-TIP), an effort to enhance economic engagement with the Arab countries in transition following the President’s May 2011 speech and determination to boost our economic engagement with the region.
"One initiative is a Trade Facilitation Agreement, which expands upon the commitments in our FTA to set a new standard for transparency and predictability in customs matters that will make it easier for companies, large and small, to bring products into our markets. The text includes new commitments which reflect innovations and new practices developed since our FTA was signed in 2004, such as allowing the submission of information before goods arrive, and the electronic payment of duties, taxes, and fees to facilitate the prompt release of goods.
"The second new initiative that we intend to finalize tomorrow is a set of joint Investment Principles that reaffirm our common commitment to open, transparent, and non-discriminatory international investment policies. Both countries are already pursuing such policies, but at this time of global economic uncertainty our mutual and public endorsement of these Principles will send a forceful reminder to investors around the world that both countries remain committed to creating the conditions that can attract investment, spur innovation and fully utilize the talent and ingenuity of our people. The Principles reflect our shared and continuing commitment not only to ensure openness to foreign investment, but also to ensure that all investors find a business environment characterized by transparency, the rule of law, and a level-playing field.
"The third initiative is a set of joint Principles for Information and Communication Technology Services. It is hard to overestimate the importance of trade in goods and services enabled by the global Internet – global IP traffic increased eightfold over the past five years and will increase fourfold again over the next five years. The adoption of these Principles will support the global development of ICT services, including Internet and other network-based applications that are critical to innovation and e-commerce. The Principles address issues such as the free flow of information across borders; facilitating the cross-border supply of services; and foreign investment in ICT sectors. Adoption of these Principles demonstrates our shared commitment to a sector that is having a transformative effect on the global economy and will help to foster further growth and innovation in ICT goods and services.
"We are excited to have been able to cooperate closely with Minister Amara, Ambassador Bouhlal, and all of our Moroccan colleagues over the last few months in reaching consensus on these three important initiatives. Like the FTA itself, these are tools that can facilitate greater trade and investment, and boost job growth in both countries across many sectors, including aerospace, agriculture, automotive, and renewable energy. We hope that you and countless other companies will be able to take full advantage of them as you explore and deepen the bonds of business and friendship between our two countries.