Statement by His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Sidi Mohammed
It was four years ago in Marrakesh that the
multilateral trading system, whose jubilee we are celebrating today, reached its
culminating point with the birth of the World Trade Organization, the WTO. For all
of us, this was a very special moment, and for the world as a whole it marked a decisive
step in the as yet unfinished construction of a community of nations desirous of ensuring
that law prevails over power alone.
I should like to pay tribute here to all those who,
from Havana in 1947 to Marrakesh in 1994, not forgetting Punta del Este in 1986, were the
pioneers of our multilateral system and the protagonists of a transformation of the
economic and trading system without precedent in this century. We too are joined in
this transformation which, when it has been completed, will have ensured that the values
of solidarity and the commitments to openness prevail over the lures of unilateralism and
the law of the jungle.
Today we are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of a
trading system born from the ruins of the Second World War. This system has made a
decisive contribution to rebuilding the global economy and has more recently given impetus
to an exceptional period of economic growth, technological progress and progressive
redistribution of wealth and knowledge in the world. The vigour and multilateral
philosophy of this system have also made a key contribution to the definitive elimination
of colonialism and to shaping the rules of economic interdependence among nations based on
the same rights and obligations for all.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we are all well aware, this
system is not just the legal and diplomatic construction of another essential pillar of
the global economy. First and foremost, it is the reflection of a changing world
that is about to enter the next millennium with global trade approaching the unreal figure
of US$10,000 billion or nearly one quarter of the global gross domestic product. A
world in which the ever faster pace of innovation in information technology will
eventually make the global village, that of mankind, trade and knowledge, an irreversible
Does this allow us to say that all is now
well? Certainly not! Extreme wealth and extreme poverty exist side by side and
still watch each other every day through television screens in a world in which image and
information know no frontiers. We must therefore take the full measure of this
reality and these continuing imbalances, for although the growing integration of the
global economy overall has been the engine of mutual enrichment, nevertheless a large
sector of the population is still excluded from the benefits of this new-found prosperity
and the progress achieved. Since the beginning of the 1990s developing countries
have undoubtedly seen their growth accelerate, but overall the imbalances persist and are
getting worse. The per capita gross domestic product in the G8 countries today is
still 40 times greater than the average in the poorest countries of the planet.
We must acknowledge that the global project which
the pioneers of our system wished to put into place continues to be jeopardized by the
plight of these hundreds of millions of people who will not indefinitely accept permanent
exclusion from the great current of prosperity and progress sweeping onwards in the
developed part of our world.
It is true that growth and development cannot be
decreed. But it is also true that marginalization and underdevelopment are not
His Majesty King Hassan II, my august father,
appropriately emphasized this in his closing speech to the Ministerial Conference in
Marrakesh, when he proposed the establishment of a group to study the new mechanisms of
economic and trade globalization in an effort to achieve the more equitable integration of
the countries of the South. We must all take the initiative once again towards this
These recommendations made by His Majesty King
Hassan II four years ago were premonitory when one considers what has just happened in
certain Asian countries.
With concern and apprehension we have looked on,
powerless, as the fruits of the labour and sacrifices of several decades vanished in just
a few hours. These achievements were wiped out in part by the failures and
imbalances of the international monetary system, whose organization was once again sorely
tested. These are some examples that represent the dross of the dream of the
founding fathers of our system, and today we must all strive to find a solution for them.
It is 11 years to the day since the Kingdom of Morocco acceded to the GATT: it was
on 18 May 1987, as a logical and consistent further step in the 30 years of work of
patiently building a modern Moroccan economy based from the outset on free enterprise,
respect for private property, the prevalence of the rule of law and priority for regional
This lucid, determined and ambitious strategy was
made possible and met with success because the political choices and the model of society
which His Majesty King Hassan II sought immediately upon independence never varied:
a constitutional and parliamentary monarchy based on political and trade union pluralism,
a market economy and respect for human rights.
This process is deeply rooted in our institutions
and in our culture, and reached its full maturity with the democratic alternation
implemented a few weeks ago, which is a step forward full of hope and promise for our
The reason we refer to this dimension of Morocco's
long-term project is that we have long recognized that liberalization of the economy that
was not in harmony with a coherent political process would be incomplete and vulnerable.
We also know that, unless we link up to economic and
trade entities that have a sufficient critical mass, it would be difficult to envisage
sustainable performances in the area of growth and competitiveness. Our
determination to implement a new model for relations with our neighbour to the north, the
European Union, has to be seen in this perspective. By renouncing the cosy but
precarious and limited support of unilateral preferences and by opting for reciprocal
preferences, Morocco has not chosen the easy path but the results we expect will be only
the more significant and durable.
We are fully aware that the linkage to Europe would
lack a decisive advantage if it was not underpinned by a regional vision whose impact and
promise should not be minimized. In the Maghreb, the Middle East or Africa, the
progress of regional integration, with due respect for WTO rules, is indispensable and
indeed unavoidable if the situation created by the acceleration and expansion of
globalization is to be used to the best advantage. On the basis of history,
geography, culture, language and religion, for Morocco the region can and should be the
main platform for successful integration into the global competitive arena. On the
strength of its national situation, the soundness of its political choices, the solidity
and influence of its leadership, it is therefore Morocco's legitimate ambition to play its
full role in the multilateral system and in regional cooperation.
This is the strategy that has determined our action
firstly as a member country of the GATT and then of the WTO.
You are aware of the role we have played within this
institution, even in the most difficult moments. Whether chairing the African Group,
the Group of Developing Countries, or during multilateral negotiations, Morocco has always
emphasized dialogue and understanding and has contributed to shaping the consensus that
has enabled the multilateral system to reach the level it is at today.
In this spirit, Morocco contributed to the drafting
of the Integrated Action Plan on Behalf of the Least-Developed Countries, adopted in
Singapore, paving the way for the High Level Meeting held last year to give concrete shape
to this project. The preferences which Morocco undertook to grant to those countries
on the African continent will be implemented and notified to the WTO in the coming weeks.
In implementing its commitments, Morocco has also
scrupulously respected all its undertakings, constantly remaining faithful to its
conviction that only a universal institution open to all, with equitable conditions of
access, will be able to guarantee for our trading system the predicability, transparency
and equity without which the rule of law would only be an illusion.
The current debate within the WTO on how to deal
with the Marrakesh and Singapore agenda, on broadening the agenda and on the methodology
of future negotiations should not hide our strategic objectives. In this respect,
anything that could help to achieve an unequivocal solution to the imbalances and
difficulties to which I have referred should be included in an open-ended and innovative
With this objective in mind, Morocco, on the basis
of the achievements and lessons drawn from the Uruguay Round negotiations, is more than
ever determined to play its role in the promising implementation of the WTO's future
programme of action, and to continue resolutely to assume its responsibilities.