Zoellick to Visit United Arab Emirates and Oman October 13 - 15
WASHINGTON - U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick will travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the Sultanate of Oman October 13-15 to discuss efforts to promote economic growth and opportunity by expanding bilateral, regional and global trade. Zoellick will then travel to Israel for meetings and discussions related to U.S.- Israeli bilateral trade issues.
"I look forward to meeting the senior political and economic leadership of the U.A.E. and Oman, along with senior officials and representatives of the private sector when I visit Oman and the U.A.E." said Zoellick. "In recent years, the Gulf region has become associated with economic reforms and trade liberalization, with the launching of the current World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations in Doha, Qatar, and our recent completion of an FTA with Bahrain. I’m interested in learning more about the economic reforms and development plans in Oman and the U.A.E.
"U.S. FTAs are high quality, cutting-edge agreements that can play an important role in stimulating economic growth and development over time," said Zoellick. "Both Oman and the U.A.E. have expressed interest in deepening their economic relationship with the United States, including with FTAs, and I look forward to discussing the challenges and opportunities involved in negotiating a comprehensive FTA with the United States."
During his visit to the U.A.E., Zoellick will meet with American business leaders, participate in a roundtable discussion with U.A.E. opinion leaders and tour a port facility. In Oman, he will meet Minister of Commerce and Industry Maqbool Sultan and Minister of National Economy Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki. Zoellick will also participate in a roundtable with opinion leaders, and will conduct discussion groups with journalists and students.
The United States recently concluded a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Bahrain, and signed Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFA) with both the UAE and Oman. The TIFAs provide a forum for the United States to examine ways to expand bilateral trade and investment and can be used as a forum to launch negotiations for an FTA.
"Last year, President Bush outlined a country-by-country plan to achieve a Middle East Free Trade Area. With the hand of U.S. economic partnership, the United States will embrace and encourage reformers across the region," said Zoellick. "The 9/11 Commission urged the United States to expand trade with the Middle East and highlighted the recently concluded FTA with Bahrain, as well as our recently passed FTA with Morocco as examples of positive steps in this direction."
The President’s Middle East Free Trade Agreement (MEFTA) initiative seeks to promote free trade throughout the region and between the region and the United States. The United States recognizes the differing levels of development across the region and is taking a graduated step-by-step approach to creating a free trade area with countries interested and willing to open their economies and liberalize their trade regimes.
U.S. goods exports to the UAE in 2003 were $3.5 billion, including machinery, aircraft, vechicles, electrical machinery and optic and medical instruments. U.S. exports of agriculture products to the UAE totaled $259 million in 2003, including live animals and tree nuts. U.S. goods imports from the UAE in 2003 totaled $1.1 billion, including mineral fuel, woven apparel and knit apparel.
U.S. goods exports to Oman in 2003 were $323 million, including machinery, aircraft, vehicles, and electrical machinery. U.S. exports of agricultural products to Oman were $13 million, including sugars, sweeteners and beverage bases, and vegetable oils. U.S. goods imports from Oman in 2003 were $695 million, including mineral fuel, woven apparel, repaired products, precious stones, and knit apparel. U.S. imports of agricultural products from Oman were $2 million.
In May 2003, the President announced his initiative to create a Middle East Free Trade Area by 2013. The initiative is designed to deepen U.S. trade relationships with all countries of the region, through steps tailored to individual countries’ level of development. Since that announcement, the United States has concluded FTA negotiations with Morocco and Bahrain, signed TIFAs with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Yemen, and now with Oman. The U.S. already has TIFAs with Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia. The United States recently held its first TIFA Council meetings with the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman. In addition, the U.S. has made progress with the WTO accessions of Saudi Arabia and Algeria, and in the case of Algeria, extended GSP benefits.
The United States is working to open markets globally in the Doha World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations; regionally through APEC and the Free Trade Area (FTAA) of the Americas negotiations; and bilaterally, with FTAs. The Bush Administration has completed FTAs with eleven countries – Chile, Singapore, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Australia, Morocco, and now Bahrain – in the last two years. Negotiations are under way or about to begin with ten more countries: Panama, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Thailand, and the five nations of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). New and pending FTA partners, taken together, would constitute America’s third largest export market and the sixth largest economy in the world.