The Ministry of Industry and Commerce denied wanting to revise the entire Morocco-Tunisia FTA, and said it only wanted to make “adjustments”. The Tunisian employers had shown their disapproval and refused any revision of the FTA.
In a circular, the Customs and Indirect Tax Administration (ADII) modified some parameters of the content of the Morocco-Tunisia FTA. Among these adjustments are 18 products including powders and explosives, flammable materials, carpets and second-hand clothing, which will be excluded from the dismantling of tariffs.
The modification also includes the introduction of a new list of Tunisian products which will be subject to a single tax of 17.5%, in particular for lemon juice, soft drinks, tires, chocolate drinks, smoked fish, crustaceans and molluscs, prepared hides and skins…
This second adjustment aims above all to create a certain balance in the trade balance between the two countries given that it is twice as large and favorable to Tunisia, with an export volume of 708 million dinars, i.e. 2, 28 billion dirhams against 370 million dinars in terms of Moroccan exports equivalent to 1.19 billion dirhams.
On the other hand, it is also a question of protecting similar sectors in Morocco, of local production, which are already suffering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, in order to preserve threatened jobs.
The measures do not only concern Tunisia, they also target products in Egypt, in particular textiles, powders and explosives, flammable materials, tires, second-hand clothes and concrete iron as well as cars.
The department of Ryad Mezzour considers that this is only a “tariff adjustment” and that it will have no impact on the trade flow between the two countries, he reassures that these modifications will not change the preferential treatment of Tunisian or Moroccan products under the FTA between the two countries.
And to estimate that it is only a question ” update “ of the Moroccan customs tariff at the level of import duties, so that they are in order with the recommendations of the World Customs Organization (WCO).
The ministry also explains that the modifications had repercussions on the customs codifications appearing on the lists annexed to the bilateral Morocco-Tunisia FTA, and the Customs and Indirect Tax Administration has updated these lists which will not have ” no » impact on trade between Rabat and Tunis.
In addition to the Morocco-Tunisia FTA, Morocco’s preferential trade with Tunisia is also governed by the Agreement establishing the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (Arab League) and the Agadir Agreement, and these do not include no negative list of products traded between their member countries, the ministry adds.
“The decision of the Moroccan authorities is a blow for Tunisian exporters and the partnership between the two countries”, said Maher Ben Aissa, vice-president of the National Chamber of International Trade Companies which is part of the Tunisian Union of Industry, Commerce and Crafts (Utica).
He then indicated that “the dream of the Greater Maghreb and the great Maghreb market is evaporating day after day”, in his speech during the broadcast of the Tunisian Express FM radio.