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50 Years of Evolving Partnership

Randall L. Tobias, Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and Administrator of USAID
Morocco-USAID Partnership Commemoration
Bethesda, MD
April 17, 2007

Thank you very much for your warm welcome and hospitality Ambassador Mekouar.

Before turning to the primary theme of our gathering this evening, I want to express my sincere admiration for the quick action taken by Moroccan authorities in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Morocco. Their effective response helped to limit human casualties and mute the overall impact of the attacks. The developments of the past week truly underscore the enduring value of U.S.-Moroccan cooperation as we face new, common challenges to the peace, security and well-being of our two countries.

Our focus this evening was not intended to be on peace and security but then, over the long run, successful development is inextricably intertwined with these objectives. When I first heard that we would have the opportunity to “celebrate” the 50th Anniversary of the American- Moroccan partnership in development, I have to admit the idea gave me some pause.   It made me wonder what was behind this longstanding and obviously very fruitful relationship. I asked some of my colleagues at USAID who work on our programs in Morocco – and learned that this relationship is by no means static. It is a dynamic give and take relationship based on the strongest tradition of productive partnership . . . and clearly it works.

The American-Moroccan development program has evolved as conditions have changed over the years, and as the partnership between the United States and Morocco has matured. By the way, as I am sure all of you are aware; our proud history together extends much further back in time than our 50-year assistance program. In fact 230 years ago Morocco was one of the first states in the world to acknowledge publicly the independence of the American Republic – in 1777.

Together, we have come a long way. While traditional development activities remain, to a great extent today, these have given way to new priorities: implementing the Free Trade Agreement signed just over a year ago and moving beyond USAID assistance to negotiations toward a U.S.-Morocco agreement through the Millennium Challenge Corporation. I’m delighted that my friend Ambassador Danilovich could join us this evening.

These are two very good and positive examples of the evolution of our partnership. They mark the movement – graduation if you will – from a traditional assistance relationship to one based on mutual benefit and interdependence.

Morocco’s success and USAID’s contribution to it are, indeed, worthy of celebration. Fifty years ago, Morocco was a very different place from the country we know today. Independence had just been restored after 45 years of foreign political and economic domination during the protectorate.

There may be people in this room tonight who can remember the joy felt in gaining full independence. Some of you may remember the enormity of the challenges you faced in the development of the country’s independence.

You can remember a Morocco that was emerging from an agrarian heritage; where rural lives were defined by annual rainfall, electricity was even rarer and access to education – primary, secondary and tertiary – was considered a luxury.

I am proud that the American people were able to join with our Moroccan friends and partners in a program of cooperation that Morocco has moved forward on a stunning path of development since independence. I am even prouder that our contributions of financial and technical assistance have led to some notable successes and fundamental changes in Moroccan lives - for the better.

So, Morocco has changed. The pull of the cities has meant that Morocco is no longer rural. Water systems help mitigate against drought. Potable water and electricity are found in most homes. The massive expansion of the country’s education infrastructure means that both children and adults have access.

Economic growth has been impressive as well. GDP per capita increased from $700 in 1960 to more than $1400 per capita in 2002, as measured in 1995 constant dollars. During that period, structural modernization shifted the economy from primary reliance on agriculture to one in which services and industry contribute 86% of the nation’s GDP.

Today, the U.S. Government applies certain measures of overall development success to three criteria: ruling justly, economic freedom and investing in people. Together, these provide the basis for our approach to sustainable development that will allow a partner country to graduate from development assistance, which is ultimately our goal.

Morocco took a giant step in that direction when important political, social and economic reforms qualified the country for Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact eligibility in November 2005. Since then Gross National Income has grown to $1,730 per capita, moving Morocco from a Low Income Country to a Lower Middle Income Country category.

So, let me simply say how delighted I am to celebrate with all of you Morocco’s impressive achievements in the past 50 years. I am also honored by your interest, Mr. Ambassador, in highlighting the contribution that USAID has made to your country’s success. I look forward to continuing strong U.S.-Moroccan relations based on partnership and cooperation.

Thank you very much.


Our next speaker, Mark Ward, would like to say a few words about the documentary which we will be viewing shortly. Mark Ward is the Senior Deputy Administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Asia and the Near East and is in charge of our Middle East programs.

Just last week, on April 11, he took part in a similar 50th anniversary partnership celebration in Rabat where the Princess Lalla Meriam and other high government officials participated in the event, a testament to the strength of our ongoing partnership.

Mark, please come on up.

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