Total US trade with Oman and the UAE is worth about $5,600 million a year. The UAE is Washington’s third largest trading partner in the Middle East with trade in 2003 worth about $1,000 million. Trade with Oman was worth some $4,600 million. The US has recently signed FTAs with Bahrain and Morocco and already has an FTA in place with Jordan (MEED 17:9:04).

The flurry of activity is part of a wider project, launched by President Bush in 2003, to create a free trade zone across the Middle East. Officials in Washington were widely reported in mid-November as saying that negotiations over an FTA with Cairo had resumed, having stalled in June 2003 over a genetically modified foods dispute.