Tuesday, April 23, 2013

EU and Morocco Start Negotiations for Closer Trade Ties

EU and Morocco Start Negotations for Closer Trade Ties

Text Box: Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane speaks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso during a meeting in Rabat on march 1, 2012Morocco is now the first out of four other countries to come to the negotiation table in hopes of progressing the negotiations towards the “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas” plan with the E.U. Negotiations were launched on 1 March 2013 with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane in the city of Rabat. A boost from the 200 association agreement which guaranteed tariff-free trade, the negotiations will have an overview of a deeper trade agreement as well as cover more areas not included. Some of these issues include services and public procurement, and protection for investments and new commitments on competition on intellectual property rights. This also includes a refinement of border procedures and customs in reducing conflicting and burdensome industrial standards and requirements including food safety requirements. Overall, these talks are aiming towards the reshaping of Moroccan industry to better fit into the EU as perhaps, one day a single market economy.
The next negotiation meeting is scheduled for the end of June in Brussels, and thus poses potential in the many ways in which the Moroccan Kingdom should project itself and what should be done for the general well being of the country. This is especially important because Morocco is not a resource rich monarchy and is thus very dependent on import/export as the EU’s biggest trading partner, which according to the article accounts for around 50% of the countries total trade. Thus, after this weeks article titled “The Middle East and North Africas Resilient Monarchies” which argues that regime type explains variation in political stability, we see that the muted nature of protests in Monarchies as well as Moroccans discontent being channeled into the political movement based on a “transformation without violence” is (economically) on the right track with these negotiations.
This weeks reading argues that monarchies are well suited to deter political unrest through strategic use of constitutions, formal political institutions, Islamic principals as well as informal norms, moreover, it can thus be argued that this predictability is attractive the outside investment as well. This is why it can be surely predicted that the EU and Morocco will succeed in establishing trade agreement pact with the EU. I also believe that Morocco will enforce EU methods in order to further stabilize the country from possible spillover or unrest in neighboring/regional countries in MENA who are still experiencing the ripple effect from the Arab spring.

-Jessamy Bardin



  1. In light of our class lectures, I find it interesting that Morocco and the EU will soon be close trading partners. As we know, Morocco is a monarchy and was one of the MENA countries that did not see change after the Arab Spring. The EU would not engage in a trade agreement if the Moroccan economy was declining, therefore, we can conclude that the economy is doing quite well. Maybe this trade agreement will help spark change? Or maybe this will only further stabilize the monarchy? We know that the economy plays a significant role in indicating whether protests will erupt or not.


  2. The joining of Morocco in closer trade agreements with the EU could be a highly beneficial action taken for the people of that nation. In the article we read for class "Will Oil Drown the Arab Spring?", author Michael Ross was optimistic that encouraging MENA countries to enter into trade agreements with the West through joining the stock exchanges, etc. would help these nations through the ability of the West to put more pressure on the MENA regime leaders to be less corrupt and provide civil liberties to their people. Ross argued in the case of oil producing countries that transparency of state finances as a result of the requirements to trade with Western countries would help diminish corruption and ensure the citizens of these countries were receiving social services paid for by their countries resources. Thus, I can definitely see how Morocco trading with the EU could help the people in their plight for more representation and influence in their government even if the Monarch proves resilient.

  3. These are altogether very hopeful prospects. In other words, I personally think that if change occurs in Morocco, it will have nothing to do with trade agreements signed with the EU. Again, if we look carefully at the Arab Spring, it is perhaps actually a cry against neoliberal reforms that have proven in so many instances to only deepen the social cleavages in countries. Furthermore Morocco has not been a nice partner to Western interests only since 2011, but for centuries now. Thus, what I am attempting to say is that furthering trade relationships with Europe will only please Western leaders, and thus have them look only at the bright side. The strongest example of such dealings is Saudi Arabia, which is often presented as a moderate Monarchy in western media, striving to improve its population's living conditions, while on the ground it is completely different. The example was strong throughout the entire Arab Spring, that these revolts were the settling of long lasting internal issues. Thus, these increasing agreements between Morocco and the EU might indeed lead to stronger democratic revolts, but they should not be considered the fruit of European democratic propagation. In the complete opposite, I actually believe that these revolts would be against these increasing trade agreements, which further impoverish parts of the population and leave many social classes out of the discussion table. People want more empowerment, and more social justice. And none of these is the result of international agreements. These are the fruits of internal discussions, with all the various classes of a country's people agreeing to a future visions, and automatically mutual concessions.

  4. At first glance, Morocco does seem to be on the right track within the context of the MENA region, however the constitutional reforms introduced by Mohammed VI were largely superficial. My last blog post was about the worrying state of human rights in Morocco, and on Feb 27 Molly wrote a similar post about the lack of meaningful reforms in the kingdom.
    The insinuation in the linked article that the European Union could form a single market with Morocco is absurd.

    In the 2011 Human Development Index, Morocco placed 130th, squarely between Nicaragua and Iraq. Despite the constitutional reforms in 2011, the Freedom House has not changed its rating of political rights or civil liberties in the country.

    In expanding trade with Morocco, it seems that the European Union is subscribing to the belief in "Moroccan exceptionalism" while glossing over the not-so-exceptional reality in Morocco.