Negotiations on Track for Cutting-Edge Agreement to Promote Economic Growth
WASHINGTON - U.S.
Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and Moroccan Minister Delegate of
Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Taib Fassi-Fihri today attended the launch of
the Morocco Free Trade Agreement Congressional Caucus on Capitol Hill. Also
present at the launch were Congressmen David Dreier (R-CA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart
(R-FL), Phil English (R-PA), and U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Margaret Tutwiler.
The Caucus was formed to promote the U.S.-Morocco FTA to Congress and will serve
as the first Congressional Caucus launched in support of President Bush's vision
of a Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA)."An FTA with
Morocco will help strengthen our close friendship by promoting growth,
prosperity, and security for both nations," said Zoellick. "Congressional
support is critical in the advancement of this agreement and I very much welcome
the efforts of the Caucus."
of a U.S.-Morocco FTA sends a powerful signal to the rest of the Muslim world
that the United States is committed to supporting the development of open,
prosperous societies in all regions of the world," Zoellick said. "This
agreement is an important component of America's commitment to expand economic
opportunity throughout the Middle East and the Mahgreb region and is an integral
part of the President's plan to create a Middle East Free Trade Area within a
of the Morocco FTA Congressional Caucus coincides with the fourth round of FTA
negotiations between the United States and Morocco, which started Monday, July
21st in Washington. The initial round of negotiations commenced in January 2003
in Washington, with subsequent rounds in Geneva (March) and Rabat (June). 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
Morocco is an
important part of the Administration's trade strategy of expanding trade
globally, regionally, and bilaterally. According to a recent Cato Institute
Paper by Dan Griswold, taken together as a group, the recently completed Chile
and Singapore FTA's, the ongoing Morocco, Central America (CAFTA), South African
Customs Union (SACU), and Australia FTA negotiations, and the proposed Bahrain
FTA negotiations would constitute the 4th largest U.S. export market and the
world's 9th economy in terms of purchasing power.
Tanner (D-TN) and Chris John (D-LA), along with Congressmen Diaz-Balart and
English co-chair the Caucus. Representatives from CMS Energy and AOL/Time
Warner, co-chairs of the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Coalition also attended the
U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Area
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, U.S. products entering Morocco face an average tariff of over 20
percent, while Moroccan products are subject to an average tariff of 4 percent
as they enter the United States.
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.
A free trade agreement with the United States will enhance and solidify such
reforms because of its comprehensive nature.
The government of
Morocco has also launched an initiative to streamline investment procedures and
eliminate barriers to foreign and domestic investment. A free trade agreement
would have provisions to help improve Morocco's investment climate, as well as
protecting U.S. investments.
The U.S. 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. The
U.S. seeks to liberalize trade through multilateral, regional, and bilateral
initiatives. A free trade agreement with Morocco is an important element of this
The World Trade Organization (WTO) was founded in Marakesh,
Morocco, in April 1994. A free trade agreement between the U.S. and Morocco will
support ongoing WTO negotiations.
The U.S. is
refocusing its existing development assistance program to link it more closely
with a free trade agreement and help Morocco meet a free trade agreement's
significant obligations. In addition to building trade capacity, U.S. technical
assistance will help Morocco in critical areas, such as agriculture sector
U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area
economic growth and expand opportunity in the Middle East, the President
proposed on May 9th, 2003 to establish a U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area within
a decade. Building on our free trade agreements (FTAs) with Israel and Jordan,
the United States will take a series of graduated steps:
• Help reforming
countries become members of the World Trade Organization;
• Employ the
Generalized System of Preferences program to increase U.S. trade ties
opportunities, applications for more products, and marketing to U.S.
• Negotiate Bilateral Investment Treaties and Trade and Investment
Framework Agreements (TIFA) with governments determined to improve their trade
and investment regimes;
• Complete our negotiations on a free trade agreement
with Morocco by the end of this year;
• Begin negotiations on a FTA with the
reform-focused leadership in Bahrain;
• Launch, in consultation with
Congress, new bilateral free trade agreements with governments committed to high
standards and comprehensive trade liberalization; and
• Provide assistance
to build trade capacity and expansion so countries can benefit from integration
into the global trading system.