WASHINGTON - U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Minister of State for Finance and Industry Mohammed Khalfan
bin Khirbash today signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA),
providing a forum for the UAE and the United States to examine ways to expand bilateral trade
"Today's signing is an important step in promoting America’s
export opportunities in the UAE, a top 30 U.S. export market," said Zoellick. "At the same time,
increased trade and economic engagement with the United States can assist the UAE in its
ongoing efforts to liberalize and diversify its economy. This agreement solidifies the relationship
between our two countries on an economic level which complements our strong partnership in our
fight against terrorism."
"Expansion of trade with the United Arab Emirates is part of our
efforts to promote democracy and economic vitality in the Middle East and the Gulf Region,"
added Zoellick. "In May 2003, the President proposed a Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) by
2013; this month’s FTA with Morocco and the completion of the second round of FTA
negotiations with Bahrain puts us in good standing to achieve that goal."
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 UAE 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.
In 2003, the United States exported $3.5 billion worth of goods to
the United Arab Emirates, including machinery, aircraft, vehicles, optical and medical
instruments, live animals and tree nuts. The United States imported $1.1 billion worth of goods from
the United Arab Emirates in the same year, including mineral fuel, woven and knit
A Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the United
Arab Emirates is just one of the many ways the United States is moving forward to
strengthen trade relationships bilaterally. In 2001, the U.S. FTA with Jordan was approved, and
FTA’s with Singapore and Chile went into effect January 1, 2004. In recent months, the U.S.
completed free trade agreements with five 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.
At the same time, 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
Immediately following that trip, Zoellick travelled 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.
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.