Business calls for modernisation of Morocco-EU trade relations framework

Business Europe, the General Confederation of Moroccan Business and EuroCham Maroc have stressed that the trade and investment environment between the Kingdom and the EU must be updated
This photograph, taken on June 28, 2019, shows a view of the container cranes at Terminal I of the port of Tangier Med, in the northern city of Tangier.

PHOTO/AFP  -   This photograph, taken on June 28, 2019, shows a view of the container cranes at Terminal I of the port of Tangier Med, in the northern city of Tangier

Business Europe, the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM) and EuroCham Maroc agreed on Tuesday on the 'Pact for the modernisation of trade and investment between the European Union (EU) and the Kingdom of Morocco', which calls for a modernisation of the framework for trade and investment relations between Europe and the Alawite Kingdom.

The aim of this legislative development is to take advantage of all the economic and commercial potential derived from the economic nexus between the North African country and the EU. All of this is aimed at making progress on the path of economic recovery following the scourge of the COVID-19 health crisis.

In this regard, Pierre Gattaz, President of Business Europe, pointed out that the current association agreement between the EU and Morocco dates back to 2000 and that the world has changed, so "we must adapt our agreement to the commercial realities of the 21st century and the needs of companies in important areas such as the digital economy". 

Puerto de Tánger Med en la ciudad norteña de Tánger
AFP/FADEL SENNA - Port of Tangier Med in the northern city of Tangier

For his part, Chakib Alj, President of the CGEM, remarked that "the EU is a natural and reliable trading partner for Morocco" and that "it is important to give new impetus to this relationship today so that we can jointly benefit from the opportunities that arise, particularly those related to supply chains, in particular food chains, as well as our priorities in terms of sustainability and digital".  

The EU-Morocco Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement, which was signed in February 1996 and entered into force in March 2000, is an Association Agreement establishing a free trade area for industrial products. In order to further advance trade liberalisation, a new agricultural protocol was negotiated in October 2012. The Association Agreement also covers the progressive liberalisation of trade in services and the right of establishment.

Negotiations with Morocco were launched in March 2013, but were suspended in 2014. The EU continues to hope that negotiations can resume, now that new protocols to the agricultural agreement have been agreed, following the ruling of the EU Court of Justice on its application to Sahara products.

Un empleado de la empresa francesa de producción de cables Acome trabaja en una fábrica de cables en un parque industrial conectado a una zona de libre comercio en la ciudad marroquí de Tánger, el 13 de marzo de 2018
AFP/FADEL SENNA - An employee of French cable production company Acome works at a cable factory in an industrial park connected to a free trade zone in the Moroccan city of Tangier, on March 13, 2018.

According to Business Europe, the CGEM and EuroCham Maroc, this modernisation of the EU-Morocco Association Agreement should be based on eight fundamental issues, as reported by the media Medias 24 and the Moroccan news agency MAP: 

  • Facilitating investment and improving market access for investors in priority sectors, such as renewable energies, agri-food and digital services.
  • Reducing non-tariff barriers for industrial products and mutual recognition of relevant regulations and standards.
  • Liberalisation and facilitation of trade, services and transport.
  • The creation of a framework for mutual recognition of certain professional qualifications.
  • Trade facilitation and regional and continental integration.
  • The creation of "one-stop administrative shops" for SMEs to promote their participation in trade between the EU and Morocco.
  • Promotion and facilitation of trade in agri-food products.
  • Improvement of the business climate.