Statement of USTR Rob Portman on House Passage of Bahrain Free Trade Agreement
"On the first day that the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement goes into effect, 100 percent of the two-way trade in industrial and consumer products will be without tariffs. U.S. farmers will also find additional opportunities, especially in meats, fruits and vegetables, cereals, and dairy products. In addition, Bahrain has made broad commitments to open its services market wider than has any previous FTA partner, creating a wide array of opportunities in services sectors such as banking and securities, insurance, and telecommunications, audiovisual, express delivery, distribution, healthcare, architecture and engineering.
"This free trade agreement with Bahrain, our first with a Gulf country and our third with an Arab country, signals our commitment to deepening America’s relationship with the Middle East region. It is another major step forward in implementing President Bush’s plan for a Middle East Free Trade Area, building on our existing agreements with Israel, Jordan and Morocco, as well as our recently-concluded FTA with Oman. And we look forward to entering into an FTA with others in the region in the near future.
"Over the last several months, I have been pleased to work closely with my former colleagues on both sides of the aisle to lay the foundation for our trade agenda, including the Bahrain FTA. I want to especially thank Majority Whip Roy Blunt, Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, Ways and Means Ranking Chairman Charlie Rangel, Representatives Ben Cardin, Paul Ryan and Greg Meeks. Each were instrumental in putting together a bipartisan consensus on the agreement and in rallying support for this agreement. We now look forward to swift passage in the Senate.
"This agreement also affirms our commitment to a growing, open Middle East region and President Bush’s vision of a Middle East Free Trade Area. Many citizens in the United States and Bahrain depend on vibrant and growing trade for their jobs. And this U.S.-Bahrain FTA will only add to that number."