Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements


MOROCCO   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.

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 reality.

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 inevitable either.

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 end.

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 integration.

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 region.

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 agenda. 

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.