WASHINGTON - The Office of the United States Trade Representative yesterday
transmitted to the President and the Congress reports from 32 trade advisory committees,
comprising more than 750 practitioners representing diverse interests and views,
regarding the recently completed U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The Trade
Act of 2002 requires these committees to prepare reports on proposed trade agreements
for the Administration and Congress. Support for the agreement was widespread among
nearly all the committees.
"The trade advisory committee reports show that the Morocco FTA is a cutting edge,
modern trade agreement that will expand economic freedom and support democracy.
This agreement will open new opportunities for American manufactured goods, farm
products, and services," said U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick. "The reports re
cognize that this agreement is a vital step in creating a foundation for openness and
economic growth, and is another step forward in the President's vision of a Middle East
Free Trade Area."
Support for the agreement was widespread. The Advisory Committee for Trade Policy
and Negotiations (ACTPN), which is appointed by the President and is the most senior
committee, urged the U.S.-Morocco FTA's "quick adoption and implementation."
ACTPN found the agreement "to be strongly in the U.S. interest and to be an incentive
for additional bilateral and regional agreements." Members of ACTPN also stated "the
Morocco FTA will serve as a catalyst for other agreements in the Middle East and is a
significant step in the President's stated goal of creating a Middle East Free Trade Area."
A majority of the Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee (TEPAC) said that
the agreement provides adequate safeguards for the environment and noted, "this
agreement, as well as the Administration's larger Middle East Trade Initiative, might help
contribute to economic growth and stability and to positive national security outcomes in
the region." TEPAC urged that new environmental mechanisms from other recent
agreements, such as CAFTA's citizen-submission process, be included in all U.S. free
trade agreements. Additional and differing viewpoints were expressed among committee
members on issues such as intellectual property protection for pharmaceuticals,
investment, and dispute resolution provisions.
Broad support was also expressed for the Morocco FTA by advisory committees on
services, goods, and intellectual property. These committees highlighted the
comprehensive nature of the agreement and its rapid elimination of tariffs on U.S.
exports. Several committees particularly highlighted the agreements strong provision on
intellectual property rights, with the advisory committee on Intellectual Property Rights
saying that the Morocco FTA contains "the most advanced IP chapter in any FTA
negotiated so far." Advisory committees on capital and consumer goods applauded the
comprehensive nature of the agreement and its rapid or immediate elimination of tariffs
on priority U.S. exports. Committees representing the automotive and chemicals sectors
expressed support for the agreement, but indicated concerns about the timetable for tariff
phase elimination and with regard to the rules of product origin.
Agricultural advisory committees voiced broad support for the agreement. The senior-level
Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) said the FTA "will improve
opportunities for U.S. agricultural exports...new tariff rate quotas will assure access to
Morocco's markets for U.S. common and durum wheat, beef, and poultry." Particularly
strong support was voiced by agricultural advisory committees for meats, grains, and
The committee of state and local government representatives (IGPAC) expressed support
for the Morocco Agreement, finding that "America's economic growth and prosperity are
best served by embracing strategies for more open and fair global markets." IGPAC
representatives again stressed, as they have in the past, the need for trade agreements to
continue to respect the authority of state and local governments to regulate in areas under
The Labor Advisory Committee (LAC) urged Congress to reject the agreement, alleging
deficiencies in local labor laws. Other criticisms in the LAC report are similar to the
committee's criticisms of all U.S. free trade agreements negotiated under Trade
Promotion Authority, such as alleged non-equivalence of dispute settlement procedures
and opposition to provisions on investment and government procurement.
The trade advisory committee system was established in the Trade Act of 1974. The
purpose of the system is to ensure that the Administration receives advice and assistance
from a broad range of stakeholders in setting U.S. trade policy and developing balanced
U.S. positions in trade negotiations. The advisory program is run jointly by five federal
agencies: USTR, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, the
Department of Labor, and the Environmental Protection Agency. USTR is the lead
The advisory groups are made up of more than 750 cleared advisors from business,
agriculture, labor, environmental groups, consumer groups, state and local governments,
as well as academic experts and retired U.S. government officials.
There are 32 advisory committees which meet with U.S. trade officials to provide advice
on proposed and on-going trade initiatives. In FY03, more than 150 advisory committee
meetings were held. In addition, USTR and other agencies keep advisors informed by email
and the Internet of important developments in trade negotiations. More than 125
such communications were sent to advisors in FY03.
Other recent improvements in the advisory system include daily webcast briefings at
trade ministerial meetings, more frequent briefings during the concluding phases of trade
negotiations, a secure website for review of documents, and a complete re-structuring of
the industry sectoral and functional advisory committees to reflect the changing makeup
of the U.S. economy.