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Singapore and Morocco agree to start FTA talks

By Channel NewsAsia’s Asha Popatlal in Morocco | 11 January 2007

Singapore and Morocco agree to start FTA talks

RABAT : Singapore and Morocco have agreed to start talks on a Free Trade Agreement, but only at a pace that Morocco is comfortable with.

However, Moroccan leaders hope it will happen in the near future.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said this on the second day of his trip to the country.

Morocco is a growing economy that is focusing its development in certain sectors, according to its Minister for Industry and Economy Upgrading, Mr Salaheddine Mezour, who met with Mr Goh.

The sectors range from agriculture to urban planning, tourism, housing, infocomms and new technologies like nanotechnology.

Morocco is also setting aside vast tracts of land for integrated developments, from commercial use to marinas and tourism.

Mr Goh said this would provide concrete possibilities for Singapore developers, as well as opportunities to look into Morocco’s IT sector and get a share of its government e-business.

Mr Goh also met with Morocco’s Prime Minister Driss Jettou.

He also spoke of developing an overall economic framework, from the current investment agreement to an eventual FTA.

An Investment Guarantee Agreement is also being negotiated. And both leaders are confident that it should be completed within the year.

Essentially, such an agreement protects businessmen on both sides in the event that investment law changes.

Mr Goh said: "To Morocco, this will enable the country to go into Asia, through Singapore. It will also signal to Asians, and not just to Asians but other countries as well, that Morocco is open to business. And by open to business, I mean going to be a more open economy and one which is less protected." - CNA/de

 source: Channel News Asia