New Trade Rules for the Weak Morocco, with Its African Roots and Pro-Europe Stance, Is Right Place for New North-South Pact

By LaFranchi, Howard | The Christian Science Monitor, April 13, 1994 | Go to article overview

New Trade Rules for the Weak Morocco, with Its African Roots and Pro-Europe Stance, Is Right Place for New North-South Pact


LaFranchi, Howard, The Christian Science Monitor


MOROCCO'S King Hassan II is fond of telling Moroccans that their country is like a tree whose roots are deeply planted in Africa, but whose leaves are tossed by the winds of Europe.

The king's point is that while Morocco harkens to its North African soil for its traditions and identity, its prosperity is largely dependant on the state of its economic ties to wealthy neighbors across the Mediterranean.

That picture of Morocco as a link between the South and the North, between the developing and the developed worlds, makes the old royal capital of Marrakesh a particularly appropriate venue for the April 15 signing of the Uruguay Round trade liberalization accord. For just as Morocco is a poor country pursuing rapid growth through closer ties to the West, a majority of the 125 delegations at the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) meeting represent developing countries that - by conviction or resignation - are signing on to freer trade in a global market economy as their best route to prosperity.

For one week, Marrakesh is the capital of hope in a kind of New Deal for the world's developing countries. GATT General Director Peter Sutherland is categoric that such hope is justified. "Under the Uruguay Round, everyone comes out a winner," says the widely respected Irishman. "If I weren't convinced that includes the least-developed countries, I wouldn't be a part of it."

Mr. Sutherland rattles off examples of new commitments by developed countries to more open markets as support for his argument. But he says the biggest gain for the least powerful is the round's provision for turning the GATT, a series of trade negotiations, into a World Trade Organization (WTO) with well-defined trade rules and a multilateral system of trade-dispute settlement. "This puts to an end the law of the jungle, where might is right," he says. …

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