- The European Union (EU) and Morocco today announced the start-up of negotiations aiming at reaching a complete free trade agreement, according to EU President José Manuel Barroso, who is currently in Rabat.
The main objective of the new agreement would be to seek "a progressive integration of the Moroccan economy into the internal market of the European Union," explained Mr Barroso. The EU leader spoke at a press conference in the Moroccan capital together with the North African kingdom's Prime Minister, Abdelilah Benkirane.
According to the EU President, "Morocco is the first partner in the Mediterranean region with which the EU launches negotiations of this character to reach a complete and profound free trade agreement." Mr Barroso at the same time confirmed that "the agreement will deepen our economic ties" and recalled that, already, "the EU is Morocco's most important trade partner and the principal foreign investor."
Mr Barroso informed that the EU and Morocco agreed to start the negotiations by reaching an agreement on a "free movement partnership" within short. There was a political agreement on both sides to move forward with such a partnership, "which guarantees the smooth handling of the traffic of persons over our common border," the EU leader explained.
The economic and cultural relations with the Maghreb kingdom are among the deepest the EU has with any of its non-European neighbours. With the assumption of power of the current King, Mohammed VI, relations had deepened as the country opened up its economy and engaged on limited democratic reforms.
Morocco is also the number one beneficiary of the financial aid the EU gives to its neighbours, having received around euro 654 million only in the period from 2007 to 2010. This economic aid was even increased as a new and deepened cooperation agreement was signed between the two parties for the 2011-13 period.
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