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Ambassador Kirk, Moroccan Minister of External Commerce Maazouz Discuss the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement

Washington, D.C. - The second meeting of the Joint Committee responsible for supervising the operation of the United States-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA) took place today in Washington. United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk headed the U.S. delegation and Minister of External Commerce Abdellatif Maazouz led the Moroccan delegation.

Ambassador Kirk, Minister Maazouz and their delegations discussed bilateral trade, investment and economic issues of mutual interest, as well as the administration of the FTA. Both governments acknowledged the progress and collaborative work that has taken place since the last meeting of the Joint Committee in Rabat in March 2008. The delegations stressed that the Joint Committee meetings are an important aspect of the continued development of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Morocco. The FTA contributes significantly to the strong bilateral relations between the United States and Morocco and both delegations acknowledged the importance of engaging their respective private sectors to take advantage of the FTA.

The two sides agreed to continue their work to strengthen cooperation in trade, investment and other economic issues.

"The United States places great value on its strongly valued trade relationship with Morocco, as illustrated by our Free Trade Agreement," said Ambassador Kirk. "As our two governments actively work to find collaborative opportunities to increase trade and investment in both directions, our FTA plays the central role in our work. I also want to acknowledge the important leadership Morocco is providing in the context of our ongoing negotiation of an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement."

During the meeting, the two sides discussed economic conditions in both countries, reviewed advances in bilateral trade and investment since the FTA entered into force, and discussed the development of bilateral cooperation in areas including: general economic cooperation, investment, agriculture, innovation, IPR protection and enforcement, customs issues, environmental and labor issues, and capacity building. They also talked about the progress made in negotiations with other partners on a multi-party Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The United States and Morocco agreed to hold the third meeting of the Joint Committee in Morocco in 2010 at a date to be determined.

BACKGROUND

The U.S.-Morocco commercial relationship has developed significantly since the U.S.-Morocco FTA entered into force in January 2006. Since that time, there have been significant increases in bilateral trade - overall trade in goods between the United States and Morocco increased 148 percent between 2005 and 2008 from $927 million in 2005 to $2.3 billion in 2008. While bilateral trade has declined during 2009 due to global economic conditions, both the United States and Morocco are hopeful that the multi-year positive trend will soon return.

The Joint Committee meets annually to discuss issues surrounding the FTA and its administration, including cooperative efforts to expand trade and investment and to improve the business climate. The Joint Committee also attempts to resolve any concerns brought to its attention by either party. The Joint Committee is chaired by USTR and the Moroccan Ministry of External Commerce.

In the first two meetings of the Joint Committee, both governments have brought together broadly representative inter-ministerial delegations to allow discussion of a range of topics related to the FTA, including trade, investment, and other economic matters. The Joint Committee focuses on concrete problem-solving and on developing potential areas of cooperation for future work.

In implementing the FTA, both governments reconfirm their commitment to expand economic opportunities between the United States and Morocco while simultaneously coordinating their efforts to promote greater trade liberalization through the World Trade Organization.