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Will the current DCFTA talks between Morocco and the EU create a better Moroccan economy?


In recent times, Morocco has experienced vast improvements in their economic growth; according to the government’s 2016 national budget draft, there is a three percent rise in the kingdom’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Also, total public investment would reach 189 billion Moroccan Dirhams (about $19.7 billion) in 2016. With Morocco’s official unemployment rate at 8.7 percent this year, the government intends to create 26,000 jobs in 2016 and expects more jobs to come from state investments.
The European Union and Morocco have since 2012, signed a duty free access agreement which is an agricultural agreement that gives the EU, duty access to 55 percent of Moroccan agricultural products, and will also give duty free access to 70 percent of the EU’s agricultural products in Morocco.
Analysts believe that Morocco has the ability to improve and sustain its economic growth especially with the improvement in its agricultural sector, which account for over 15 percent of the country’s economy. According to recent media reports, 2015 cereal harvest hit a record of 11 million tonnes, a vast improvement from 6.7 million tonnes in 2014. As a result of the trade agreement, Morocco has experienced a rise in imports. Trade deficit rose from €1.8bn in 2003 to €7.26bn in 2013, Oxford Business Group (OBG) analysts say.
On the 14th of December 2011, the European Commission became mandated to begin negotiations to establish deep and comprehensive free trade areas with Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia, with the aim of “improving market access opportunities, and the investment climate and supporting economic reforms undertaken in these four countries”. In reaction to this, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) sent a letter to the European institutions, noting the need for the EU to thoroughly assess the conditions attached to the DCFTA. They also expressed fears that the conditions may be lopsided towards the sole aim of providing unconditional maximum protection to the European investors and investments abroad, thereby threatening the democratic sovereignty of the countries.
However, in March 2013, Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) negotiations were launched between both the EU and Morocco, where the EU proposed further strengthening of trade agreements with Morocco. This would mean an extension beyond the trade in goods into services. For instance, the harmonization of regulations in intellectual property, investment and procurement as well as a gradual integration of both markets.
In a 2015 Morocco analysis report by OBG, country economist for Morocco at the World Bank, Jean-Pierre Chauffour, supports the DCFTA, “The DCFTA can provide a transformational platform to improve the regulatory environment,” he said.  The report provides figures showing a slow economic growth rate of 12 percent from the country’s Ministry of Economy and Finance. Trade rose from Dh4.7bn (€511.3m) to Dh14.4bn (€1.57bn) between 2003 and 2013.

This recently updated EU report shows that DCFTA negotiations between Morocco and the EU are actively engaged, the question is, will there be a solid agreement and will this agreement take morocco to the plane they want to be economically? OBG notes that the economic and commercial counsellor at the Spanish Embassy to Morocco, Ines Pérez-Durántez Bayona, says the DCFTA will benefit both the EU and Morocco, “It would also boost competition in government tenders as the government has not yet signed the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on tenders and many contain national content requirements,” she said