Building on President Bush's proposal last month to establish a U.S.-Middle East
Free Trade Area (MEFTA) by 2013, U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick
will travel to the Middle East June 18th - 23rd to discuss ways to promote
regional and global trade and economic growth.
visit Bahrain to discuss how to expand U.S.-Bahrain trade ties with Prime
Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and Bahrainian business leaders on
June 19th. He will then travel to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt for an informal World
Trade Organization meeting June 20th - June 22nd to discuss ongoing global trade
negotiations. Zoellick will join U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell at a
meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Amman, Jordan, where Zoellick will
deliver a major policy speech on June 23rd.
Administration is committed to pursuing opportunities that will help advance the
development of a Middle East Free Trade Area by 2013," said Zoellick. "The
President's vision is clear. Trade liberalization and increased economic
integration will generate growth, create opportunity and promote security
throughout the Middle East."
"I'm pleased I'll
be able to visit Bahrain and discuss with Prime Minister Khalifa Al-Khalifa how
their economic reform agenda and support for trade liberalization will
complement our Free Trade Area (FTA) discussions next year. As the first FTA
with a Gulf nation, a U.S.-Bahrain FTA would be an important regional hub for
economic activity," Zoellick added.
"I look forward
to highlighting President Bush's MEFTA proposal to regional leaders and key
opinion makers who have assembled in Jordan for the WEF," said Zoellick. "As one
of only four nations with a free trade agreement with the United States, and the
only Arab nation, Jordan is an excellent example of how trade can drive economic
reforms and growth, creating jobs, prosperity and hope."
Prior to the WEF,
Zoellick will join WTO trade ministers in Egypt for an informal meeting to
discuss the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations, hosted by Egyptian Trade
Minister Boutris Ghali. The meeting is intended to review progress to date in
the negotiations. The meeting will help prepare for the WTO's 5th Ministerial
Conference, September 10-14, in Cancun, Mexico. At the heart of the agenda will
be the talks on agriculture. Ministers meeting in Egypt are expected to consider
the state of play in these talks, especially in light of the European debate
over the recommended reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. While Ministers
will focus on the range of issues in the negotiations, it is clear that the
progress in agriculture will set the pace for progress in other areas of the
negotiations. Zoellick noted that the DDA holds out the promise of important
cuts in tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to trade, which is essential to
global economic growth.
States is strongly committed to success in the WTO negotiations, and the
discussions in Egypt will focus on how to advance the negotiations and prepare
for Cancun," Zoellick said.
The United States
has moved forward globally, regionally, and bilaterally to promote trade
liberalization. In the global trade negotiations launched at Doha in November
2001, the U.S. has made bold proposals in agriculture, industrial and consumer
goods, and in services.
U.S. Middle East Free Trade Area
economic growth and expand opportunity in the Middle East, the President
proposed on May 9th, 2003 establishing a U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area within
a decade. Building on our free trade agreements (FTAs) with Israel and Jordan,
the United States will take a series of graduated steps:
• Help reforming
countries become members of the World Trade Organization;
Bilateral Investment Treaties and Trade and Investment Framework Agreements
(TIFA) with governments determined to improve their trade and investment
• Complete our negotiations on a free trade agreement with Morocco
by the end of this year;
• Continue to pursue a FTA with the reform-focused
leadership in Bahrain;
• Launch, in consultation with Congress, new bilateral
free trade agreements with governments committed to high standards and
comprehensive trade liberalization; and
• Provide assistance to build trade
capacity and expansion so countries can benefit from integration into the global
and Investment Framework Agreements to Build Free Trade:
dialogues have fostered market liberalization and economic reforms with U.S.
partners. Based on progress made through our TIFA discussions, including a visit
by USTR Zollick to Morocco in January 2002, and the Moroccan's commitment to
opening their economy, President Bush and King Mohammed VI agreed in April 2002
on their desire to pursue a FTA. The announcement followed such key steps as the
liberalization of the Moroccan telecommunications sector and strengthening of
its intellectual property protections. Negotiations began in January 2003, with
a third round held most recently in Rabat, Morocco. An agreement on an FTA is
expected by the end of this year.
productive discussions with Bahrain resulted in an announcement on May 21st in
Washington, following meetings between Zoellick and Crown Prince Shaikh Salman
Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, that the United States and Bahrain would seek to negotiate
a FTA following formal Congressional consultations. Subject to Congressional
procedures, the two countries hope to start formal negotiations at the beginning
of next year. The announcement with Bahrain follows on a very successful TIFA
dialogue and Bahraini efforts to liberalize key sectors such as banking,
insurance and telecommunications.
U.S.-Bahrain FTA will generate export opportunities for U.S. goods and increase
access for U.S. services providers, creating jobs for U.S. farmers and workers.
U.S. goods exports to Bahrain in 2002 totaled $419.2 million, including
aircraft, machinery, vehicles, pharmaceutical products, and toys, games and
sports equipment. Agricultural commodities that would benefit from an FTA
include U.S. meats, fruits and vegetables, cereals, and dairy produce. Bahrain's
goods exports to the United States in 2002 totaled $395.1 million, including
articles of apparel and clothing accessories, aluminum, fertilizers, organic
chemicals, mineral fuels and oils, plastics, and electrical
U.S.-Bahrain FTA will support economic reform and investment opportunities.
Bahrain is a regional leader in economic reform and trade liberalization and has
undertaken a strong economic reform program that includes liberalization of the
telecommunications market and recent legislation for transparent government
procurement and labor rights.
WTO and FTA
policy initiatives have had a transforming impact on those countries that
embraced market opening and liberalizing reforms. U.S.-Jordan trade has grown
impressively with U.S. goods imports from Jordan totaling $412 million in 2002,
an 80 percent increase ($183 million) from 2000, and up 1,321 percent over the
last eight years. U.S. goods exports to Jordan in 2002 were $404 million, up 19
percent ($65 million) from 2001. These growing bilateral trade linkages have
helped transform Jordan's economy, generating 30,000 new jobs since 1999 and
encouraging diversification of Jordanian exports.
Participation in the WTO:
The region has
made significant progress in increasing its participation in the WTO. Qatar
hosted the Doha meetings in 2001. The U.S. has also worked with WTO accession
candidate countries and has sponsored technical assistance to help them with
their candidacy, including with Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Algeria and
Doha Global Trade Negotiations
States has made bold and ambitious proposals to spur global trade
The United States has proposed bold reform of global agricultural trade that
would level the playing field for all countries by substantially reducing global
trade barriers, slashing global trade-distorting subsidies by over $100 billion
annually, and eliminating export subsidies.
• Services. The
United States has proposed liberalizing global trade in services by removing
barriers in areas such as financial services (including insurance, banking and
securities); telecommunications; express delivery; computer services; energy;
and environmental services.
• Industrial and
Consumer Goods. The United States has proposed a "tariff free world" by calling
on members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to eliminate all tariffs on
consumer and industrial goods by 2015. Demonstrating continued U.S. leadership
in the Doha Development Agenda, the U.S. plan for zero tariffs is comprehensive,
and would benefit both developed and developing nations. This proposal, combined
with the far-reaching U.S. agricultural reform proposal submitted to the WTO in
July, would eliminate tariffs on the nearly $6 trillion in annual world goods
trade, lifting the economic fortunes of workers, families, businesses, and