Even though it is not one of the most commercially significant agreements among trading partners, the United States–Morocco Free Trade Agreement (‘the Agreement’) is noteworthy in several respects. First, the Agreement is likely to strengthen the longstanding ties between the two important allies. The relationship between the United States (US) and Morocco is important and, following the events of 11 September 2001, the importance of that relationship may be growing. Second, the Agreement is also significant in that it eliminates many considerable barriers to trade and investment – in everything from agriculture to government procurement – in a developing country that only recently became interested in opening its markets. Finally, it is also noteworthy as an agreement between the US and a country that is a neighbour of the European Union (EU).
A. The impetus for a free trade agreement
The Agreement illustrates that the impetus for a trade agreement can have more to do with broad foreign policy concerns than with narrow commercial interests. From the purely commercial perspective of Morocco, the US was a relatively insignificant trading partner before the Parties negotiated the Agreement. The US represented just 4.7% of Moroccan foreign trade in 2000, compared with 56.9% for the five largest trading partners among the EU Member States (France – 27.7%; Spain – 11.1%; Great Britain – 7.5%; Italy – 5.7%; Germany – 4.9%). From the perspective of the US, Morocco is its seventy-fourth largest goods trading partner with US$1.04 billion in total (two-way) goods trade in 2004.