The USA "is waiting with great inertest" Morocco's autonomy project for the Southern provinces to "settle an issue that has long laste," said the US ambassador in Rabat.
Speaking at a meeting with the students of the Institute of Higher Management Studies (HEM), here Friday, Thomas Riley said the "Sahara issue affects economy and the investment opportunities in the region," underlining that a "united Maghreb region is a better project."
Morocco is devising a project to grant large autonomy to the Southern Provinces, the Sahara, under the Moroccan sovereignty, to solve the dispute that broke out in 1976 when the Polisario separatists laid claims to this former Spanish colony, which Morocco had retrieved a year before under the Madrid Accord with Mauritanian and Spain.
Touching on the Free Trade Agreement between Morocco and the USA, the US diplomat said the indicators are encouraging as American investors are more present in Morocco to benefit from the investment opportunities in the kingdom, notably the workforce in the textile, call centers and information technologies sectors.
Thanks to its political stability and human resources, he said, Morocco should be competitive at the international level through adopting an approach based on the development of more competitive sectors such as tourism, industry of consumption and attracting investments, underlining that the North African country enjoys an important infrastructure that could guarantee logistical potentials for Moroccan and foreign companies.
According to the American Chamber of commerce in Morocco (AmCham), Moroccan-US trade exchanges flared up 44%, totalling 1.396Bn in 2006. Moroccan exports to the United States netted USD 521.2Mn, i.e. a 17% increase, while American exports to Morocco reached USD USD 875.5Mn (+67%).
In 2006, Morocco exported to the United States electric machinery (USD 122Mn, +15%), clothing (USD 100Mn, +75,5 %), canned food (USD 31Mn, +41 %) as well as fruits and walnuts (USD 10Mn,+78 %) while it imported planes (USD 250Mn, +51%), grain (USD 163Mn, +98%) and plastic (USD 46Mn, +1112%).
The FTA, enforced on January 1st, 2006, provides for total customs duties exemption for flower exports and for an 80% reduction for products like vegetables and fruits.