Morocco and the United States signed, Thursday, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at protecting Morocco’s cultural heritage from smuggling.
The MOU was signed by US ambassador to Morocco David T. Fischer and Moroccan Minister of Culture Othman El Ferdaous to «restrict the import to the United States of certain archaeological and ethnographic material from Morocco», a press release by the US Embassy in Rabat reported.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce also attended the event held virtually from Washington, DC.
«The United States has deep respect for Morocco’s cultural heritage», Royce said. «This agreement is yet another example of the long history of collaboration between the United States and Morocco», she added.
«This agreement allows our cultural institutions and law enforcement to work together to protect Morocco’s cultural patrimony from looters and traffickers, and it promotes expanded cultural exchange between our countries», Ambassador Fischer said.
Minister Othman El Ferdaous declared that the signing of this memorandum followed more than a year of preparatory work done by cultural specialists from the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Embassy, the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture.
He explained that this agreement reflects Morocco’s eagerness to «fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural goods in the two countries, through training workshops, conferences, meetings and to contribute to the exchange of expertise and experience to meet the challenges related in particular to the protection of various heritage objects from abusive and illegal importation». The Minister added that this cooperation constitutes a fundamental step in the fight against transnational organized crime.
The agreement will help strengthen collaboration «among scientific, educational, and cultural institutions in our countries, increasing the public’s appreciation of Morocco’s rich cultural heritage», the same source added.
The U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation has invested more than $860,000 in 11 projects to preserve Morocco’s cultural heritage since 2002.