WASHINGTON – USTR hosted the second meeting of the U.S.-Kuwait Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council today in Washington. The TIFA provides a framework for discussions on improving the already strong trade and investment relations between the United States and Kuwait. The TIFA Council meeting was co-chaired by Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Shaun Donnelly and Kuwait’s Trade Minister, Falah al-Hajiri, and included representatives from a broad range of U.S. Government agencies and Kuwaiti ministries.
"We are delighted to have had the opportunity to host our Kuwaiti partners for this important meeting," said Ambassador Susan Schwab, the United States Trade Representative. "We hope Kuwait’s commitment to continued trade liberalization and foreign investment will set the stage for deeper economic engagement between our two countries. Our economic relationship with Kuwait is an important part of President Bush’s long-term vision for creating a free trade area covering the entire Middle East region by 2013."
Since it was signed by both governments in 2004, the TIFA has established a formal ministerial dialogue between the United States and Kuwait that allows the two countries to identify jointly concrete steps for deepening trade and investment relations.
"This meeting of the U.S.-Kuwait TIFA Council demonstrates our commitment to working progressively to deepen even more our economic and trade ties with Kuwait," said AUSTR Donnelly. "The TIFA Council gives us a forum to discuss the full range of trade and investment issues between our countries and to look together for ways to improve economic and commercial relations. Kuwait is an important ally and partner of the United States and our economic relationship is a critical focus of our partnership."
The two delegations discussed a number of areas of mutual interest, including their respective climates for foreign investment, legislative and regulatory issues affecting international trade, and the protection of intellectual property rights. The parties agreed to continue discussions on these and other topics at the expert level and, when appropriate, at the level of the TIFA Council.
The United States and Kuwait signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in 2004 and held the inaugural TIFA Council meeting in May of that year. A number of expert-level meetings have been held under the auspices of the TIFA in 2005 and 2006.
Since 2004, two-way trade has increased substantially. U.S. goods exports to Kuwait in 2005 were $2.0 billion, an increase of 30.0 percent from the previous year. Corresponding U.S. imports from Kuwait were $4.3 billion, an increase of 34.2 percent from 2004. Kuwait is currently the 47th largest export market for U.S. goods.
Middle East Free Trade Initiative (MEFTA):
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 other nations. 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 takes a series of graduated steps with these countries tailored to their individual level of development.
The United States is expanding and deepening our economic ties through comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs), and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program for eligible countries. This Administration has concluded an FTA with Jordan; entered into force FTAs with Morocco and Bahrain, negotiated successfully an FTA with Oman; is in FTA negotiations with the United Arab Emirates; and has signed nine TIFAs with Middle East nations.
The United States has TIFAs with a number of countries to enhance bilateral trade and coordinate regionally and multilaterally through regular senior-level discussions on trade and economic issues. The TIFAs create Joint Councils that address a wide range of commercial issues and set out basic principles underlying the nations’ trade and investment relationship.