The 1786 Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship

During the American Revolution, so many American ships called at the port of Tangiers that the Continental Congress sought recognition from the “Emperor” of Morocco. This was accorded, in effect, in 1777, making Morocco the first country to recognize the fledging American republic. Negotiation of a formal treaty began in 1783, and resulted in the signing in 1786 of the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both future U.S. Presidents, were the American signatories. This is the oldest unbroken treaty of friendship that the United States has with a foreign nation. (See more on the early relations between the two nations, below.)

The 2004 Free Trade Agreement between Morocco and the United States of America

The groundbreaking 2004 U.S.- Morocco Free Trade Agreement is the most recent of many official measures that have helped to cement the long-standing and always cordial relationship between the United States and the Royal Kingdom of Morocco.


RELATIONS 1777-1787
Office of the Historian – United States Department of State

Morocco and the United States have a long history of friendly relations. This North African nation was one of the first states to seek diplomatic relations with America. In 1777, Sultan Sidi Muhammad Ben Abdullah, the most progressive of the Barbary leaders who ruled Morocco from 1757 to 1790, announced his desire for friendship with the United States.

The Sultan’s overture was part of a new policy he was implementing as a result of his recognition of the need to establish peaceful relations with the Christian powers and his desire to establish trade as a basic source of revenue. Faced with serious economic and political difficulties, he was searching for a new method of governing which required changes in his economy.

Instead of relying on a standing professional army to collect taxes and enforce his authority, he wanted to establish state-controlled maritime trade as a new, more reliable, and regular source of income which would free him from dependency on the services of the standing army. The opening of his ports to America and other states was part of that new policy.

The Sultan issued a declaration on December 20, 1777, announcing that all vessels sailing under the American flag could freely enter Moroccan ports. The Sultan stated that orders had been given to his corsairs to let the ship “des Americans” and those of other European states with which Morocco had no treaties-Russia Malta, Sardinia, Prussia, Naples, Hungary, Leghorn, Genoa, and Germany-pass freely into Moroccan ports. There they could “take refreshments” and provisions and enjoy the same privileges as other nations that had treaties with Morocco. This action, under the diplomatic practice of Morocco at the end of the 18th century, put the United States on an equal footing with all other nations with which the Sultan had treaties.

By issuing this declaration, Morocco became the first state to acknowledge publicly the independence of the American Republic.

On February 2O, l778, the sultan of Morocco reissued his December 20th 1777, declaration. American officials, however, only belatedly learned of the Sultan’s full intentions. Nearly identical to the first, the February 20 declaration was again sent to all consuls and merchants in the ports of Tangier, Sale, and Mogador informing them the Sultan had opened his ports to Americans and nine other European States. Information about the Sultan’s desire for friendly relations with the United States first reached Benjamin Franklin, one of the American commissioners in Paris, sometime in late April or early May 1778 from Etienne d’Audibert Caille, a French merchant of Sale.

Appointed by the Sultan to serve as Consul for all the nations unrepresented in Morocco, Caille wrote on behalf of the Sultan to Franklin from Cadiz on April 14, 1778, offering to negotiate a treaty between Morocco and the United States on the same terms the Sultan had negotiated with other powers. When he did not receive a reply, Caille wrote Franklin a second letter sometime later that year or in early 1779.

When Franklin wrote to the committee on Foreign Affairs in May 1779, he reported he had received two letters from a Frenchman who “offered to act as our Minister with the Emperor” and informed the American commissioner that “His Imperial Majesty wondered why we had never sent to thank him for being the first power on this side of the Atlantic that had acknowledged our independence and opened his ports to us.” Franklin, who did not mention the dates of Caille’s letters or when he had received them, added that he had ignored these letters because the French advised him that Caille was reputed to be untrustworthy.

Franklin stated that the French King was willing to use his good offices with the Sultan whenever Congress desired a treaty and concluded, “whenever a treaty with the Emperor is intended, I suppose some of our naval stores will be an acceptable present and the expectation of continued supplies of such stores a powerful motive for entering into and continuing a friendship.”

The Main Bilateral Agreements :

The Kingdom of Morocco and the United states have a rich legal framework. Over the years the countries have signed more than 100 agreements some of them are:

1- The 1786 Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship :

  1. Accord relatif à l’encouragement des investissements.
  2. Accord entre le Ministère de l’Education Nationale et l’Administration Nationale Océanique et Atmosphérique pour la coopération dans le cadre du programme “Globe”
  3. Accord de don relatif à l’objectif stratégique ” Promotion des investissements intérieurs et étrangères”.
  4. Accord entre le CRTS et la NASA des Etats-Unis sur un projet de coopération relatif aux recherches sur les précipitations
  5. Accord entre le CRTS et la NASA en vue d’une collaboration au programme Aeronet ( Aerosol Robotic Network)
  6. Accord entre le CRTS et la NASA sur un projet de coopération relatif aux recherches sur la désertification
  7. Accord relatif aux transports aériens
  8. Convention en vue d’éviter la double imposition sur le revenu et la fortune
  9. Accord relatif à la vente des produits agricoles
  10. Accord de coopération concernant les utilisations de l’énergie nucléaire à des fins pacifiques
  11. Accord portant création d’une commission mixte pour les échanges éducatifs et culturels .
  12. Accord entre la Division de la Cartographie (Direction de la Conservation Fonciére et des Travaux Topographiques du Maroc )et the Defense Mapping Agency .
  13. Convention d’entraide judiciaire en matière pénale .
  14. Accord entre le Maroc, l’USA et l’AIEA concernant la cession d’uranium enrichi pour un réacteur de recherche.
  15. Convention de coopération entre le Ministére des Affaires Culturelles du Royaume du Maroc et la Smithsonian institution des Etats-Unis d’Amérique .
  16. Traité concernant l’encouragement et la protection réciproques des investissements .
  17. Accord général sur la sécurité des informations militaires.
  18. Convention entre l’université de Pitliersburg et l’école des bibiololthèques et sciences de l’information et l’école des sciences de l’information ( l’ESI du Maroc) .
  19. Accord relatif aux transports aériens
  20. Protocole d’accord entre le Département Américain de l’Emploi et le Ministère de l’Emploi, des Affaires Sociales et de la Solidarité, le Ministère de l’Education Nationale et de la Jeunesse, le Secrétariat d’Etat chargé de l’Alphabétisation et de l’Educat
  21. Accord entre le Service de Normalisation Industrielle Marocaine ( SNIMA) et l’Organisme Américain chargé de la Normalisation des Méthodes d’Essais (ASTM International) relatif à l’adoption des normes ASTM
  22. Mémorandum d’entente entre le Service de Normalisation Industrielle Marocaine (SNIMA) et l’Organisme Américain chargé de la Normalisation des Méthodes d’Essais ( ASTM International)
  23. Echange de lettres constituant un accord sur l’assistance économique et technique
  24. Accord entre l’Administration Nationale d’Aéronautique et d’Espace (NASA) et les Forces Royales air portant sur l’utilisation de la base des FAR de Benguerir comme aire d’atterrissage de secours pour la navette spatiale
  25. Accord de libre échange
  26. Accord portant prorogation de l’accord entre l’Administration Nationale d’Aéronautique et d’Espace (NASA) et les Forces Royales air portant sur l’utilisation de la base des FAR de Benguerir comme aire d’atterrissage de secours pour la navette spatiale sig
  27. Accord de télécommunications par satellites