Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements

16 and 18 June 2003

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

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See also:
Press release: Further trade reforms would improve economic efficiency

This third Trade Policy Review of Morocco has led us to a far better understanding of Morocco's economic policies, with emphasis on its trade policies and practices, and of the challenges it faces. Our dialogue has been comprehensive thanks to the full and open engagement of Morocco's high-level delegation, led by Minister Mustapha Mechahouri, the perceptive comments by the discussant, and the active involvement of many Members. I would like to thank Minister Mechahouri for the committed approach he has taken to this TPR.

Members were appreciative of Morocco's macroeconomic performance and of the structural reform it is undertaking; this, by further diversifying the economy, has helped it to contain the effects of recurrent droughts and to promote sustainable growth. The dirham has been somewhat stabilized and inflation kept low. Members commended Morocco on its active participation in the multilateral trading system and recalled that the WTO Agreement was concluded in Morocco. They were supportive of Morocco's initiatives towards regional and bilateral agreements to expand its trade; they hoped that the regional agreements would conform to WTO principles and would avoid overlapping and other difficulties. Members stressed the importance of diversification of trading partners by Morocco, particularly toward southern countries. Some Members sought clarification on Morocco's position with respect to the ongoing multilateral negotiations and encouraged Morocco to further mainstream trade into its development strategy.

Members urged Morocco to simplify its tariff structure, including with a view to addressing escalation. They also noted with concern that some one third of Morocco's applied rates exceed bindings and that variable duties are still used. Some Members also expressed concern about Morocco's local-content requirements.

Further information was sought regarding procurement (methods, procedures, and preferential margins), trade facilitation, rules of origin, import monopoly, import and export licensing, tariff quotas, and internal taxation. Members noted that regular notification of trade policy measures and related legislation to the WTO would improve the transparency of Morocco's trade regime.

Some Members encouraged Morocco to pursue its liberalization reform with a focus on agriculture, its most protected sector, and to eliminate remaining quantitative restrictions on exports of skins. Members mentioned that Morocco would improve its business environment in the services sector by strengthening its commitments under the GATS. This would undoubtedly reinforce the predictability of its trade regime; make its economy more attractive for foreign investment; facilitate privatization; and consolidate reforms in areas where Morocco's multilateral commitments are somewhat lagging behind the liberalization efforts already made. Such an improvement is necessary in the current international economic context, where a lack of buyers has forced Morocco to delay privatization, particularly in the areas of telecommunications and air transport.

Clarification was also sought on the following issues:

  • incentives, including subsidies and selective exemptions;

  • contingency trade remedies;

  • standards and other technical requirements;

  • intellectual property rights;

  • sustainable capacity-building in agriculture, for small-scale farmers in particular;

  • the rural electrification programme;

  • manufacturing (production and processing methods, textiles and clothing, pharmaceutical products, car industry); and

  • services (tourism, insurance, banking, telecommunications, and transport).

Members appreciated the interventions by the Moroccan delegation, and look forward to receiving written replies to the questions.

In conclusion, this meeting has given Members a further insight into Morocco's trade policies and practices, and identified areas where further reforms could enhance transparency and predictability in its trade regime. We were all very appreciative of the reforms being undertaken by Morocco. In this supportive context, Members urged Morocco to accelerate its trade reforms with a view to improving efficiency and fully benefiting from its participation in the multilateral trading system. I would encourage all Members to support Morocco in its efforts to take up its challenges, guaranteeing market access for its products and assisting it to improve competitiveness.