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Morocco World News | 29 Novembre 2019
Morocco, Turkey launch negotiations to save free trade agreement
By Tamba François Koundouno
Rabat – Turkey and Morocco appear to have launched negotiations to maintain their in-question Free Trade Agreement with the aim of “rebalancing” trade terms and satisfying both parties.
Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Morocco’s Minister of Industry, Trade, and New Technologies, met with his Turkish counterpart, Minister of Trade Ruhsar Pekcan on November 28, to discuss the future of the Morocco-Turkey free trade deal.
Meeting in Istanbul at the 34th session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC), the two officials seized the opportunity to address their countries’ fragile Free Trade Agreement.
The two ministers suggested the creation of a joint Morocco-Turkey “technical commission” which will be charged with investigating “means of rebalancing the commercial relations between the two countries,” Moroccan outlet Medias 24 reported on November 28.
According to the report, the two parties are keen to maintain their bilateral and commercial ties. In the meantime, however, Morocco is understood to have insisted that continuation of the bilateral agreement would require greater and more genuine involvement from Turkey.
During the meeting, Elalamy, while reaffirming Morocco’s belief in open markets and its readiness to strengthen its commercial ties with all its partners, including Turkey, insisted that it is necessary that free trade agreements benefit Morocco’s economy.
According to Medias 24, Elalamy was notably adamant that Rabat would not hesitate to walk out of its deal with Ankara if its Turkish partner does not, as has been mentioned in recent reports, hold its end of the bargain.
A key reason behind Morocco’s recent threats to walk out of its agreement was the fact, according to reports, that Turkish products have massively entered into Moroccan markets while Ankara continues to submit Turkey-bound Moroccan products to rigid customs obstacles.
Elalamy said last week that Morocco would walk out of all the “agreements that do not benefit our economy and our country.” That statement was later confirmed to have been especially aimed at the bilateral deal with Turkey. This brought to light old concerns over the profitability of the Turkey-Morocco deal for the Moroccan economy, suggesting that it was only a matter of time before Rabat ends its 2006 agreement with Ankara.
At the end of their meeting in Istanbul, both ministers agreed that the soon-to-be-expected joint technical commission will work, among other things, on identifying investment and exports ventures in both countries. The goal is to equip Moroccan exporters with firsthand information on export products that may interest—and do well in—Turkish markets, while providing the same for Turkish investors interested in Morocco’s rising industrial sector.