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Morocco gives nod to free trade deal with U.S.

The Moroccan chamber of deputies has approved the broad free trade agreement with the United States, which now awaits endorsement by the Senate, parliamentary sources said.

The accord, signed last August, covers industrial and agricultural goods, intellectual property, services, customs, employment, the environment and telecommunications. It calls for the elimination of customs tariffs on 95 percent of industrial and commercial goods.

Ahead of Thursday's vote, junior foreign minister Tayeb Fassi Fihri stressed that the agreement contained all the guarantees to protect the country's industrial products from U.S. competition. He said industrial and fisheries pro

ductions would be exonerated from customs duties while textile products would enjoy preferential treatment. He said Rabat paid particular attention to the farming component of the accord, which was the subject of a separate chapter "unlike other U.S. accords of this type which included agricultural products in the chapter relating to market access.

" He also gave assurances that the accord preserved gains made by the national pharmaceutical industry concerning "the use of generic drugs, the battle against epidemics and the protection of the right to medical care." The minister also assured lawmakers that the bilateral deal covered "the entire Moroccan territory, including the southern Saharan provinces."

Beirut,01 24 2005
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