US Trade Representative Gretchen Hamel says that the two countries have decided they would be unable to complete talks in the current timeframe, given that the ‘fast-track’ negotiating authority granted to the current US administration has already expired.

Hamel added that talks would resume, but that no timeframe had currently been outlined. “Both sides remain committed to completing an FTA and expect to resume negotiations at a later point in time,” he said.

President Bush was granted Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) by US congress to fast-track trade deals, but this authority expired in mid-2007. No new authority to sign deals is expected to be granted until a new president is elected in 2009.

Hamel added: “Further progress on labour issues will be one of the important elements of a final package that gets the United States and the UAE to a completed FTA.”