In a close vote, the European Parliament agreed to implement a controversial trade agreement with Morocco, much to the chagrin of French and Spanish farmers.
The deal expands trade relations between the EU and the North African nation, opening trade and easing restrictions. The deal immediately lifts tariffs on 55 percent of Moroccan farm products imported into Europe. In return, Morocco agreed to lift tariffs on 70 percent of European agricultural goods over the next ten years.
The deal has been hailed in Morocco as a major turning point in that nation’s economy. According to Moroccan Agricultural Minister Aziz Akhannouch, the agreement will “breathe a new dynamic into the country’s economic and agricultural development”. European Parliament President Martin Schulz was wary of the deal, but agreed that it could help boost the European economy and may help improve European relations with Morocco and other North African nations.
Many European farmers, however, are worried that the trade agreement threatens their livelihood. Many MEPs who voted against the legislation believed that it was unbalanced and that European farmers could not compete with Moroccan workers, who make about $6 a day.
European agricultural officials, however, are quick to point out that the trade agreement does not apply to all foods. Tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, garlic, clementines, and strawberries are all excluded from the tariff reduction.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer