What is the timetable for negotiating the comprehensive and comprehensive free trade agreement? The status of Western Sahara remains a matter of controversy. The Polisario Front says it will continue to lodge appeals before the ECJ to challenge the validity of Morocco`s trade agreement with the EU. Will this dispute further disrupt relations with the EU? Agricultural trade is the responsibility of three bilateral agricultural agreements negotiated between the EFTA state (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland/Liechtenstein) and Morocco. They provide for significant concessions on both sides, taking into account the respective sensitivities. Each agreement contains specific rules of origin, usually based on “fully preserved” criteria. The agreement contains provisions relating to the elimination of tariffs and other trade barriers, as well as other trade-related disciplines, such as competition rules, intellectual property protection, public procurement, state monopolies, subsidies, arbitration procedures and payments and transfers. However, specific structural adjustment provisions allow Morocco to introduce, where appropriate, temporary measures to protect small industries and sectors in restructuring or in difficulty, particularly when these difficulties lead to significant social problems. The institutional provisions provide for the establishment of a joint committee to monitor the agreement. A week after the EU and Morocco presented plans for an ambitious new trade and political agreement at the Morocco-EU Association Council, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said in an exclusive interview how his country intends to develop relations with the EU. In 2004, Morocco signed the Agadir Agreement with Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia.

This has forced all parties to remove all tariffs on trade between them and to harmonize their legislation on customs standards and procedures. The Agadir agreement came into force in July 2006 and is implemented by the Agadir technical unit in Amman. In addition, each EFTA state has a separate agreement with Morocco on agricultural products. These bilateral agreements are part of the instruments for the creation of the free trade area between the EFTA countries and Morocco. Article 12 provides for the non-discriminatory application of the provisions in the areas of plant health and protection and prevents the contracting parties from introducing new measures that cause excessive obstruction of trade. The most important step is to agree on what we want to achieve through a renewed form of trade agreement. The overall aim of the negotiations is to create new trade and investment opportunities and to ensure better integration of the Moroccan economy into the EU internal market. The DCFTA also aims to support the economic reforms under way in Morocco and to bring Moroccan legislation closer to that of the EU in trade-related areas.

At the same time, Morocco is deeply rooted in its continent. We have been actively involved in the development of our African continent, because we believe that it must continue to strengthen its economic and political integration. In this regard, we have reintegrated with our African institutional family and have endeavoured to care for our African brothers and sisters both bilaterally and multilaterally. We are also part of an African free trade area that offers many opportunities, first for Africa, but also for international actors.