USTR - Middle East Free Trade Initiative: U.S. Regional Plan to Spur Economic Growth
                 
The Office of the United States Trade Representative

Middle East Free Trade Initiative: U.S. Regional Plan to Spur Economic Growth
03/02/2004

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.

Active Support for WTO Accession

Working on accession to the World Trade Organization with:

· Saudi Arabia

· Lebanon

· Algeria

· Yemen

Robust Trade and Investment Framework Action Plans

TIFAs promote the establishment of legal protections for investors, improvements in intellectual property protection, more transparent and efficient customs procedures, and greater transparency in government and commercial regulations. TIFAs in place:

· Bahrain

· Egypt

· Tunisia

· Algeria

· Saudi Arabia (signed July 2003)

· Kuwait (signed February 2004)

· Yemen (signed February 2004)

Free Trade Agreements

· U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement (in force)

· U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (in force)

· U.S. – Morocco FTA: completed negotiations March 2, 2004

· U.S.- Bahrain FTA: launched negotiations January, 2004


"Leaders in the region speak of a new Arab charter that champions internal reform, greater political participation, economic openness, and free trade." President George W. Bush, American Enterprise Institute, February 27, 2003