9th TIFA with Middle Eastern Country
WASHINGTON - U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and
Qatar Minister of Economy and Commerce Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Jassim al-Thani today signed a
Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), providing a forum for the United
States and Qatar to examine ways to expand bilateral trade and investment. This is the ninth
TIFA the United States has signed with a Middle Eastern country.
"American consumers and businesses benefit from a closer trading
relationship with Qatar," said Zoellick. "Qatar played a valuable role in hosting and
facilitating the launch of the Doha negotiations, the global trade negotiations to open markets and
promote economic development. Furthermore, Qatar has been a steadfast friend of the United
States in the war against terrorism, and I am pleased that we are working to expand our relationship on
the economic front."
"The President is committed to helping Middle Eastern countries
reform and open their societies through his Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) initiative," added
Zoellick. "As they implement these changes, we will deepen our economic ties with
them through various avenues such as today's Trade and Investment Framework Agreement."
The TIFA creates a Joint Council that will consider a wide range
of commercial issues and sets out basic principles underlying the two nations' trade and
investment relationship. The council will establish a permanent dialogue with the expectation of
expanding trade and investment between the United States and the Qatar with the goal of resolving
trade issues and deepening the bilateral trade relationship. The United States uses TIFA's to
strengthen bilateral trade and support economic reform through regular senior-level discussions
on commercial and economic issues. TIFAs have served as a springboard for FTA negotiations
with Bahrain, Jordan and Morocco.
In 2003, the United States exported $408 million worth of goods to
the Qatar, a 200% increase from a decade ago, including machinery, aircraft, vehicles,
optical and medical instruments. The United States imported $331 million worth of goods from Qatar in
the same year, including mineral fuel and fertilizers.
In May 2003, the President proposed a plan of graduated steps for
Middle Eastern nations to increase trade and investment with the United States and others in
the world economy. The first step is to work closely with peaceful nations that want to become
members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in order to expedite their accession. As these
countries implement domestic reform agendas, institute the rule of law, protect property rights
(including intellectual property), and create a foundation for openness and economic growth, the
United States will take a series of graduated steps with countries in the region tailored to their
level of development. The U.S. will expand and deepen economic ties through Trade and Investment
Framework Agreements (TIFAs), Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), and comprehensive
Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), and will enhance the Generalized System of Preferences
(GSP) program for eligible countries.
Today's TIFA with Qatar is the ninth with a Middle East country.
The others are: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab
Emirates (UAE) and Yemen. The United States has an FTA with Jordan, recently completed the
negotiations with Morocco (ratification pending) and is negotiating with Bahrain.
In recent months, the U.S. completed free trade agreements with
six Central American countries and with Australia. New and pending FTA's, taken together,
constitute America's third largest export market and the sixth largest in the world (these include
the above plus: Singapore, Chile, Panama, Thailand, SACU and the four Andean countries).
In addition to the bilateral agreements, the United States is
moving forward with regional trade relationships, especially with the Free Trade of the Americas, and
globally through the Doha Development Agenda. In a January 2004 letter to the 146 WTO
members, Zoellick urged Members to revive the global trade talks and conducted an around
the world trip February 11-20, visiting 9 cities for strategic consultations. These cities
were Tokyo (Japan); Beijing (China); Singapore, Islamabad (Pakistan); New Delhi (India); Cape Town
(South Africa); Mombasa(Kenya); Geneva (WTO headquarters) and Paris (meetings with EU
Trade Commissioner Lamy).
Immediately following that trip, Zoellick traveled to San Jose,
Costa Rica for meetings February 23-24 with ministers from the Cairns Group of agriculture
exporting countries to discuss liberalizing trade in agriculture within ongoing World Trade
Organization (WTO) trade negotiations.