8th Session of the Joint Committee for Monitoring the United States-Morocco Free Trade Agreement: The United States and Morocco Determined to Consolidate Their Commercial Partnership

HIBAPRESS-RABAT-MIC

The work of the 8th session of the joint committee responsible for monitoring the United States-Morocco free trade agreement was opened in Washington, at the US Department of Commerce, under the co-chairmanship of the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Ryad Mezzour, and the Deputy Trade Representative of the United States for the Europe and the Middle East, Bryant Trick.

During this opening ceremony, marked by the presence of the Moroccan ambassador to Washington, Youssef Amrani, and a host of American officials, the emphasis was placed on the means to be implemented in order to further develop trade relations between Morocco and the United States and to give more content and dynamism to the free trade agreement (FTA), particularly in the sectors of agriculture, textiles, investment, and the automobile industry.

On this occasion, Mr. Mezzour indicated that thanks to the Vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Morocco “is at the same time a partner of choice, a credible interlocutor and a trusted stakeholder who, beyond its economic climate conducive to investments, benefits from a very particular capacity to operate transversally in the eminently strategic framework of its relations with the United States”.

“The exceptional dynamics triggered during the twenty years of implementation of our FTA are rich in progress and substantial achievements,” the minister said, stressing in his speech that it will nevertheless be necessary to redouble efforts to “fully capitalize on our cooperation and successfully complete all outstanding issues in order to obtain even more fruitful and mutually beneficial results.”

In this sense, Mr. Mezzour raised a series of priority issues related to the access of Moroccan products to the American market and vice versa, addressing in this context several aspects related to overcoming non-tariff barriers. He also reviewed several structuring aspects in trade between the two countries, including cooperation in the agricultural, textile, automobile sectors, and of course the issue of investment.

Agriculture is an essential link in this cooperation, the minister recalled, adding that access to the American market for Moroccan agricultural products remains below Morocco’s ambitions and its export potential. In this regard, the Kingdom strongly reiterated its requests for market access for heat-treated poultry meat as well as for fruits and vegetables.

The textile industry, for its part, presents good prospects, the minister stressed, welcoming the fact that efficient management of this dimension of cooperation allows for a glimpse of growth within the framework of the FTA that unites the two countries. He added that Moroccan and American operators are making common cause as they face the same challenges posed by strong competition from Asian countries and their aggressive prices.

Regarding the automotive sector, Mr. Mezzour dwelt at length on customs cooperation, which is likely to ensure effective customs control of goods exchanged between the two countries and facilitate bilateral trade flows.

Referring to the environmental dimension, he welcomed the recent signing of the latest action plan, “the implementation of which will help to align our ambitions in this area.”

The Moroccan official stressed, regarding investment, that “we should welcome the establishment in Morocco of 150 renowned American companies in several sectors, which demonstrates the confidence granted by the United States to Morocco in a context where the business climate has considerably improved in the Kingdom.”

And to conclude that Morocco has “all the vocations to constitute a structural pillar of American approaches within the framework of the new green industrial and procurement policy, in particular that of the law on the reduction of inflation (IRA)”.

“The Kingdom could be a gateway for the United States to Africa to address the region’s markets and a strategic link in developing resilient and sustainable supply chains in many strategic sectors (automotive, renewable energy, agriculture, healthcare, FinTech, ITC and infrastructure),” he said.

An assessment confirmed by the Deputy Trade Representative of the United States for the Europe and Middle East region, Bryant Trick.

The American side welcomed the dynamics of economic and trade relations since the signing of the FTA while stressing that the consolidation of its implementation will be beneficial for both parties. Mr. Trick thus welcomed Morocco as a platform for the creation of new economic and trade opportunities for American companies in order to strengthen both the quality and quantity of trade. He also recognized the enhanced potential that this agreement could offer by improving access to the American market for Moroccan exports.

On the other hand, Ambassador Armani said that the free trade agreement is a catalyst for bringing together the business communities between the two countries, noting that this meeting is an opportunity to take stock and assess the level of implementation of this agreement.

He expressed Morocco’s desire to develop trade relations with the United States and promote investment, while welcoming the level of trade.

“Our countries are moving forward, trusting each other and interacting in the direction of a continuous deepening of their partnership. This is likely to translate new perspectives into the pivotal role of the Kingdom, giving new resonances to the link that it has always constituted under the leadership of His Majesty the King,” said the ambassador.

On the sidelines of the committee meeting, the Minister of Industry and Commerce held a series of meetings with senior American officials, including at the State Department where he was received by the Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, Jose Fernandez.

Other meetings are also scheduled with the US Department of Energy as well as with the heads of several specialized agencies such as the DFC and Prosper Africa.

The minister is also due to take part in a panel organised on Tuesday by the American think tank Atlantic Council.

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