Bush moves to implement US-Morocco free-trade pact

23 December 2005

Bush Moves To Implement U.S.-Morocco Free-Trade Pact

Agreement to take effect January 1, 2006

By David Shelby

Washington File Staff Writer

Washington — In anticipation of the January 1, 2006, entry into force of the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement, President Bush issued a proclamation December 22 on adjusting tariffs on imports from Morocco and authorizing the commerce secretary to take actions to support the implementation of the pact.

Signed in June 2004, the U.S.-Morocco pact immediately will eliminate import tariffs on more than 95 percent of bilateral trade in consumer and industrial products, with a gradual reduction of remaining tariffs over a nine-year period. It also will create new opportunities for trade in services and agricultural products, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

Under the agreement, Morocco will gain unlimited access to the U.S. textile market for all products adhering to the rules of origin, which state that all fibers, yarn and fabric used in textiles must be produced in Morocco or in the United States. Since the Moroccan yarn industry still is weak, a provision in the agreement allows for a temporary increase in the quota of allowable textile imports to the United States containing inputs from other countries.

U.S. agricultural producers will enjoy expanded access to the Moroccan market. However, the United States has accepted restricted access for certain poultry and beef products to protect Morocco’s agricultural sector.

The agreement also opens up trade in most service sectors, including telecommunications, audiovisual, information technology, express delivery, construction, engineering and financial services.

Both countries have pledged to pursue transparent regulatory and administrative regimes with respect to trade and investment. Both countries will publish proposed regulatory changes in advance of implementation. Provisions in the agreement covering dispute resolution, due process, bribery and expropriation are designed to ensure a predictable legal framework that will encourage bilateral investment.

Both countries also have agreed to protect intellectual property rights and enforce restrictions against piracy.

Morocco is the second Arab country to enter into a free trade agreement with the United States. Since Jordan entered into a similar agreement in 2000, its exports to the United States have grown from $31 million to an expected $1.3 billion in 2005.

Both houses of the U.S. Congress recently have approved a free-trade agreement with Bahrain. Negotiations also are under way for agreements with Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

President Bush has stated a goal of knitting together the various bilateral agreements into a larger Middle East free-trade zone by 2013.

The final text of the Morocco trade agreement is available on the USTR Web site, and the text of the president’s December 22 proclamation on the White House Web site.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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source: Washington File