Washington to start FTA talks with Oman, UAE

19 November 2004
Washington is to begin negotiations on free trade agreements (FTAs) with Oman and the UAE, US trade representative Robert Zoellick announced on 15 November. The decision follows a visit by Zoellick to the two GCC states in October to discuss closer trading ties, and the signing of trade and investment framework agreements (TIFAs) - a prelude to a fully-fledged FTA - with both governments.

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.

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