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Brussels, 17 December 2009

Negotiations between the EU and Morocco in the agri-food and fisheries sector: signature of agreed minutes

The Moroccan and EU negotiators signed an agreed minute concluding negotiations that have been ongoing for almost four years in view of a future agreement on improving bilateral trade conditions for products from the agri-food and fisheries sector. The conclusion of the negotiations is subject to the approval of the respective authorities. In particular, the agreement will reinforce the position of European exporters on the Moroccan market, particularly exporters of processed agricultural products, representing a major offensive interest for the EU with full liberalisation planned in stages over the next ten years, with the exception of pasta, for which a quantitative restriction is provided. In the agricultural products sector, the agreement will allow for the immediate liberalisation of 45% of the value of EU exports and 70% in ten years. The tinned food, dairy products, oilseeds and fruit and vegetable sector will benefit fully from total liberalisation. The fisheries sector will also be opened up for EU products (91% after five years and 100% in 10 years).

Community exports for the three sectors reached almost 944 million during the years 2006-08 and will benefit from better access to a neighbouring market that is seeing strong demographic growth against the background of an overall trade balance that is largely favourable to the European Union, with exports of €14 billion as opposed to imports of €8 billion.

The two parties have also agreed to open negotiations on the protection of geographical indications. Moreover, the agreement includes provisions on the respect of international obligations with regard to health and plant health matters.

This agreement will allow both parties to take full advantage of changing consumption and market potential, while reinforcing cooperation and safeguard mechanisms. The agreement marks an important stage in trade relations between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco, in line with political commitments made in the framework of the Barcelona Process.

In the context of the Euro-Mediterranean roadmap for agriculture (Rabat roadmap) adopted on 28 November 2005, in February 2006 the European Commission and Morocco began negotiations to improve the existing agreement on the liberalisation of trade in agricultural products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products.

Starting from a limited level of liberalisation under the current agreement, Morocco agreed to a major effort to open up by immediately liberalising 45% of imports from the EU in terms of value. As provided for in the Rabat roadmap, Morocco will benefit from a transition period for the complete liberalisation of certain products. Thus the value of fully liberalised trade will increase to 61% in five years and 70% in ten years.

The EU's tinned goods and fruit and vegetable sectors, with the exception of beans, sweet almonds, apples and tomato concentrate (for which tariff quotas have been negotiated) will be entirely liberalised within ten years. EU dairy products will see their access to Morocco completely liberalised, with the exception of liquid milk and whole milk powder. Oilseeds and cereals (with the exception of common wheat and durum wheat and their derivatives) will also be liberalised.

For the more sensitive products for which trade will not be fully liberalised, such as meat, cured meat products, wheat, olive oil, apples and tomato concentrate, Morocco has improved their conditions of access to its market in the form of tariff quotas.

From the European Union's perspective, the agreement is intended to respond to the opening agreed by Morocco by immediately liberalising 55% of imports from Morocco. The improved concessions in the fruit and vegetable sector, which accounts for 80% of the EU's imports, have taken account of particular sensitivities, with the aim of integrating Moroccan exports into the EU market and promoting complementarities between the production systems.

To this end, the production schedules have been maintained for the products considered to be the most sensitive, tomatoes, strawberries, courgettes, cucumbers, garlic and clementines. The concessions agreed for these products were made in the form of tariff quotas.

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