[A-List] US imperialism: Morocco & oil
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Mon Mar 8 08:15:49 MST 2004
Morocco pact is first US free trade deal in Africa
By Edward Alden in Washington
Financial Times, March 3 2004
The US and Morocco announced yesterday they had concluded negotiations on a
free trade agreement, an important step in what President George W. Bush's
administration will become a broader Middle East free trade area over the
The agreement is the second by the US with a Muslim nation -- following a
deal with Jordan in 2001 -- and the first with an African country.
It comes as the US is starting talks in Washington today with Bahrain on
what should be the next bilateral deal in the region. Mr Bush announced last
year that Washington would pursue a series of trade accords as part of its
ambitious effort to spread democracy and prosperity in a region critical to
Robert Zoellick, the US trade representative, said the deal with Morocco "is
a vital step in creating a mosaic of US free trade agreements across the
Middle East and North Africa".
Taib Fassi-Fahri, Morocco's minister-delegate of foreign affairs and
cooperation, said the agreement "happened because you trusted us and the
reforms we have undertaken".
It is unclear where the US plans to move next in trade negotiations in the
region. Egypt had been next in line for a free trade deal, but that was
pushed back after Cairo withdrew its support for a US-led World Trade
Organization dispute case against Europe's restrictions on
The US plans to increase sharply its foreign aid to Morocco in an effort to
create rapid economic progress that would be a model for the rest of the
In 2005 US aid to Morocco will be raised from $19.8m (?15.9m, £10.6m) in
2004 to $57.3m. Mr Zoellick said the increase was "because we wanted to
create the context for the agreement to be well-received as part of a larger
William Burns, assistant secretary of state for near east affairs, told the
Senate foreign relations committee: "King Mohammed and his government have
launched a very serious and courageous programme of reforms ... It is very
much in US interests to see ways in which we can expand our support."
The agreement is backed by a coalition of US business interests, including
Boeing, a long-time supplier to Morocco's Royal Air Maroc, and CMS Energy,
which has a joint venture coal-fired power plant in the country with
The elimination of Morocco's industrial tariffs, averaging 20 per cent,
should allow the US to increase its $475m in annual exports to the country,
while Morocco is looking for growth in apparel and farm exports to the US.
But the deal is unlikely to be approved by the US Congress this year.
Recently-concluded US pacts with Australia and Central America already face
Additional reporting by Salamander Davoudi.
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