More negotiations are needed for balanced Morocco-EU agriculture accord
Morocco-European Union, Economics, 1/16/2003
Negotiations between Morocco and the European Union on the agricultural component of the association agreement, that opened in Rabat Tuesday, are moving forward but more encounters are needed to reach a balanced agreement, said the Moroccan delegation.
Moroccan negotiators said the two sides are willing to reach an agreement but each team of negotiators needs to refer to authorities concessions and gains. They explained that negotiations are stumbling over technical data regarding some products and to the reciprocity rule provided for in the association agreement.
The meeting is part of Morocco's Association accord with the EU that provides for the creation of a Free Trade Zone by year 2012.
Europeans want a total openness while Morocco want the reciprocity principle to be applied with all the shades of meanings contained in the agreement, they said. This means that Morocco's development level should be taken into account as more than half of the population lives in rural areas, in addition to the labor force of the agri-food industry and of other associated activities.
The Moroccan negotiators also underscore that in these difficult negotiations, Morocco is alone up against a grouping of 15 states, the world's strongest agricultural power.
As they wound up their fifth round of negotiations, Moroccan and European delegations cited "considerable breakthroughs" and were upbeat over the possibility of reaching a balanced agreement.
"We have not yet finished because we had to handle a large number of products (a total of 400 products).," said the negotiators, who agreed to meet again in February.
Discussions are long, strenuous and difficult, said a Moroccan negotiator, expressing hope that Europeans will understand efforts made by Morocco, stages covered and difficulties to convince Moroccan farmers.
At the opening of negotiations on Tuesday, the Moroccan chief negotiator said if the two sides fail to reach a mutually satisfactory outcome "we will simply refuse the European offer and call off the negotiations sine die."
He explained that Morocco wants a greater accessibility of its agricultural products to European markets, recalling that the creation of a free trade area implies the opening of both the Moroccan and European markets.
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