Washington DC – Today’s signing of the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement by U.S. Ambassador Robert Zoellick and Morocco Minister Fassi Firhri should spur Congress to pass the FTA this summer, says the U.S.-Morocco FTA Coalition and business witnesses at a Senate Finance Committee hearing today.
“We urge Congress to act this summer to approve the US-Morocco FTA and turn this great agreement with Morocco into a reality,” said Laura Lane of Time Warner, Inc. and Co-Chair of the U.S.-Morocco FTA Coalition. “Our two governments have kept the bar high in this FTA negotiation by completing a comprehensive agreement that creates new economic opportunities for our manufacturing, services and agricultural workers and industries. Time Warner is particularly pleased from the entertainment industry’s perspective with the high standard protection for intellectual property rights and new commitments in e-commerce,” stated Laura Lane.
“This FTA is a win-win agreement for the United States and Morocco,” continued George Pickart of CMS Energy and Co-Chair of the U.S.-Morocco FTA Coalition. “As we have said before to Members of Congress, the U.S-Morocco FTA includes one of the best industrial market access packages of any U.S. FTA with a developing country and it will provide major new opportunities for U.S. business, farmers and workers. CMS Energy is the largest US investor in Morocco and its experience in Morocco has been only positive. Our power plant has not only been good for the Moroccan economy, but the investment has also created and sustained jobs here in the United States in support of the plant operations in Morocco. We commend Ambassador Zoellick, Minister Firhri and their negotiating teams for their diligence in producing an agreement that fosters diplomatic ties while simultaneously strengthening economic prospects for both nations,” Pickart concluded.
Both the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) – the two organizations that serve as the Secretariat for the U.S.-Morocco Business Coalition — hailed the agreement as an important milestone in the U.S.-Morocco bilateral relationship. “This agreement is in the clear national interest of the United States. The FTA will strengthen our economic and trade ties with a vitally important moderate Muslim nation, establish a stronger developing country ally for broader multilateral trade liberalization, and serve as a key building block in the broader Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) initiative, which was launched recently by the Bush Administration,” according to Mary Irace, NFTC Vice President for Trade and Export Finance.
BCIU Vice President, Jeff Donald, added that “the U.S.-Morocco FTA will create economic opportunities for both the United States and Morocco. Morocco was the first country to formally recognize the United States in 1777 and it continues to extend its friendship and support to our nation. The FTA will be another important cornerstone in this longstanding, strategic partnership and we look forward to its prompt passage this summer.”
In early 2003, the Bush Administration announced the beginning of the FTA talks and the goal of completing them by the end of 2003. The U.S. business community through the U.S.-Morocco FTA Coalition has championed the conclusion of a comprehensive, high-standard FTA with Morocco since the coalition’s formation in early 2003. Currently, the coalition has more than 80 members.
In addition to the economic and trade benefits of the FTA, the ability to strengthen U.S. economic ties in the region has been seen as a vital tool in support of U.S. diplomatic efforts. The U.S.-Morocco FTA Coalition views the FTA agreement as building on the recently enacted U.S.-Jordan FTA, and as an important component of the Bush Administration’s plan to achieve a U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area by 2013 .
The National Foreign Trade Council is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based world economy. Founded in 1914 by a group of American companies that supported an open world trading system, the NFTC now serves 350 member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.
The Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), a U.S. business association founded in 1959 at White House initiative, is dedicated to promoting dialogue and action between the business and government communities for the purpose of expanding international commerce.