FACT SHEET: U.S.-Morocco Strong and Enduring Commitment
WASHINGTON, November 23, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Advancing Security and Counterterrorism Cooperation
Morocco is one of our closest counterterrorism partners in the Middle East and North Africa region and one of the most active members of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). The Government of Morocco is implementing a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy, which reflects technical expertise as well as leadership in the religious and cultural dimensions of countering violent extremism. Rabat will host the 5th meeting of the GCTF's Coordinating Committee in spring 2014.
Morocco continues to demonstrate its strong commitment to building international cooperation during its 2012-13 membership on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). It is currently chairing the UNSC Counter-Terrorism Committee, where it plays a strong leadership role in advancing counterterrorism cooperation, including in the Maghreb and Sahel. Morocco is a strong partner and an active participant in international peacekeeping operations, contributing over 1,700 personnel to U.N. peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Côte d'Ivoire, and the NATO KFOR mission in Kosovo.
Morocco maintains an effective border security regime and seeks to modernize its strategic trade control system. With assistance from the Department of State's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation's Export Control and Related Border Security Program, the Moroccan government is working to finalize and pass through Parliament a strategic trade control law and implementation regulations. If successful, Morocco will be the first North African country to bring its legal framework for nonproliferation export controls up to international standards.
Diplomatic and Political Areas of Cooperation
Regional Issues: The Government of Morocco is a key U.S. partner in the Middle East and Africa. Morocco supported the Framework for the Elimination of Chemical Weapons in the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as well as the UNSC resolution that called on the Syrian regime to fully cooperate in the elimination of its chemical weapons program. To address the cultural, religious, and social aspects of Mali's reconstruction, His Majesty King Mohammed VI recently announced that Morocco will train 500 Malian imams in the countries' shared spiritual values of openness and tolerance.
Democracy and Governance: The U.S. government is committed to continue to work with Morocco to realize the promise of Morocco's 2011 constitution and explore ways in which the United States can help strengthen Morocco's democratic institutions, civil society, and inclusive governance. In November 2011, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supported the largest domestic election monitoring initiative in Moroccan history, with more than 2,400 individuals in 8,700 polling stations observing voting in the country's legislative elections. USAID is also working to strengthen political parties in Morocco and has helped build civil society's capacity to engage in democratic reform and advocate for citizens and marginalized groups, particularly the young and the poor. The United States has expressed strong support for the steps Morocco has taken to qualify for the Open Government Partnership, of which the United States is a founding member.
Equal Futures Partnership: The Equal Futures Partnership is an innovative, U.S.-led multilateral initiative designed to drive action by member countries with the goal of empowering women economically and politically. The United States strongly supports Morocco's efforts to undertake policy, institutional, and legal reforms in advance of the government's plan on promoting gender equality and addressing gender-based violence.
Migration Challenges: In order to address challenges in the areas of migration and refugee processing, and in response to recommendations from the Conseil National des Droits de l'Homme (CNDH), King Mohammed VI has called for the establishment of a new comprehensive migration policy.
Economic Areas of Cooperation
Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC): Morocco's $697.5 million five-year compact closed in September 2013. The program was designed to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth through investments in five projects. These strategic investments increased productivity and improved employment in sectors with high-growth potential such as agriculture, fisheries, and artisan crafts, complemented by investments in financial services and enterprise support. The MCC compact for Morocco highlighted the importance of the MCC model of strong country ownership, evidence- and results-based approaches to investment decisions, strong accountability systems, and transparent governance. Morocco was selected as eligible to develop a second compact by MCC's Board of Directors in December 2012 and is in the preliminary analysis phase of program development.
Trade and Business Environment: The United States and Morocco signed a Free Trade Agreement on June 15, 2004 that entered into force on January 1, 2006. The United States-Morocco FTA is a comprehensive agreement that supports the economic and political reforms that are underway in Morocco and provides for improved commercial opportunities, both for U.S. exports to Morocco, and for Moroccan exports to the United States, by reducing and eliminating trade barriers. The entry into force of the FTA has facilitated a significant increase in U.S.-Moroccan trade and investment. U.S. exports to Morocco reached $2.2 billion in 2012, up from $481 million in 2005. Moroccan exports to the United States likewise increased to $932 million in 2012, up from $446 million in 2005. U.S. foreign direct investment in Morocco has increased 309 percent since 2005, reaching $613 million in 2012.
Morocco was the first Middle East partner to endorse Joint Principles for International Investment and Information and Communication Technology Services Trade with the United States. These principles reflect our common commitment to 21st century open and modern economies.
On November 21, 2013 U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman and Moroccan Minister for Finance and Economy Boussaid signed a Trade Facilitation Agreement that represents a forward-leaning, 21st century agreement on customs reform and modernization. The agreement includes provisions covering internet publication, transit, transparency with respect to penalties, and other issues that will further boost Morocco's competitiveness and benefit its trade environment.
On November 21, 2013 the Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Rand Beers and Moroccan Minister for Finance and Economy Boussaid signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement, which will allow our two governments to exchange customs information to help detect, investigate, and prosecute crimes such as terrorism, narcotics smuggling, weapons smuggling, money laundering, trafficking in persons, and customs violations.
The U.S. Department of Labor is planning to provide up to $5 million to fund technical assistance project(s) to support efforts in rural and peri-urban areas of Morocco to reduce child labor and assist youth of legal working age to secure decent work, and provide household members (age 18 and older) with opportunities for improved livelihoods. The Department of Labor is also planning to provide up to $1 million for one or more cooperative agreements to fund technical assistance project(s) in Morocco to increase gender equality at work through support to relevant civil society and non-government organizations and efforts to empower women with respect to their labor rights.
Entrepreneurship: Morocco agreed to host the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, President Obama's signature initiative to promote entrepreneurship overseas. USAID, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State's Global Entrepreneurship Program, recently launched the Center of Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED) in Morocco. CEED will empower entrepreneurs to succeed in challenging business environments and is financed through a grant of $2.6 million for programming in Morocco and Tunisia.
Local Development: The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) supports Morocco's framework for advancing regionalization (decentralization) through $250,000 in support to a community-based planning project that trains student activists and local civil society organizations to work collaboratively to develop community initiatives in partnership with commune and local government leaders.
Educational and Cultural Areas of Cooperation
Youth Exchanges: Moroccan youth participate in a variety of programs sponsored by the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau at the Department of State, including: the English Access Microscholarship Program, an after-school English language enrichment program for underserved populations; the Youth Exchange and Study Program, an exchange for secondary-school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to attend school and live in the United States with U.S. families for an academic year; the Fulbright Program; TechWomen, a program for young women to receive mentoring from technology experts in Silicon Valley; and the International Visitor Leadership Program, which invites emerging Moroccan leaders to travel to the United States. There are also several U.S.-government sponsored exchange programs that send Americans students and researchers to Morocco. In academic year 2012, over 1300 Moroccans studied in the United States and over 950 Americans studied in Morocco.
Education: USAID has improved pre- and in-service training of teachers, providing in-service training to over 3,000 teachers, including 269 women. In partnership with the Ministry of Education, USAID has improved and adapted national pre-service teacher training materials for use at training colleges and distance education programs. USAID also developed an interactive in-service teacher training program, for the newly established teacher training summer institute, including an orientation program for newly hired professors at teacher colleges.
Peace Corps: Since the program's founding in 1963, over 4,400 Volunteers have served the Kingdom in numerous sites, sectors, and projects. Today, Peace Corps/Morocco focuses on youth development. In 1995, education Volunteers began teaching English in community youth centers (“Dar Chebab”), enabling youth to practice the English they learned in school. While content-based English teaching is still widely used, the program today focuses on youth leadership, strengthening youth networks, building the capacity of professionals who work with youth, and promoting girls' education. Volunteers are assigned to Dar Chebabs (youth centers), and work with local professionals and youth to promote volunteerism and youth leadership. There are 215 Peace Corps volunteers currently serving in Morocco.