Washington, DC – At a reception for Moroccan and U.S. government officials, Members of Congress and U.S. business leaders, the U.S.-Morocco FTA Coalition welcomed the newly-formed Congressional Morocco Caucus as a key player in the process of the U.S.-Morocco FTA negotiations. Led by Congressmen Phil English (R-PA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Chris John (D-LA) and John Tanner (D-TN), the Congressional Moroccan Caucus formed to continue the “deepening of the economic and strategic relationship between the United States and Morocco.”
As Moroccan and U.S. officials this week begin their fourth round of negotiations on the FTA – looking to conclude the negotiations by the end of the year – the work of the new caucus is critical, officials said.
“The Congressional Morocco Caucus will prove to be a strong player in deepening and expanding ties between our two countries, including through the completion of a U.S.-Morocco FTA,” said Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council. Citing Morocco’s longtime commitment to the United States on a wealth of issues, Reinsch applauded the bi-partisan caucus as a clear demonstration of Congress’ commitment to the U.S.-Morocco relationship, and as recognition of the importance of strengthening the U.S. partnership with Morocco on the basis of high-standard trade rules.
At today’s reception on Capitol Hill, lawmakers and business leaders heard from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, along with U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Margaret Tutweiler, Morocco’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Minister Fassi Firhri, and Morocco’s Ambassador to the U.S., Aziz Mekouar, on this week’s continuing FTA negotiations and the formation of the Congressional Morocco Caucus.
Earlier this year, 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 early conclusion of a comprehensive, high-standard FTA with Morocco since the coalition’s formation early this year. Currently, the coalition has more than 70 members.
Coalition business co-chairs Laura Lane, of AOL Time Warner, and George Pickart, of CMS Energy, emphasized the importance of the FTA as an avenue to “strengthen business ties with Morocco as part of a continued, strategic relationship with that country and as an important vehicle for furthering the economic reform process underway in Morocco, from agriculture to intellectual property rights protection, to labor and every other area important to promoting economic growth in and trade with Morocco.”
Reinsch added that coalition members view Morocco “as a leader in their region in implementing difficult market-based and open trade reforms as a strategic component of spurring economic development,” and he thanked Morocco for its commitment to a strong relationship with America as a key ally.
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 400 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.