WASHINGTON – U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman
today announced that the United States and Saudi
Arabia have concluded bilateral
negotiations on issues related to Saudi Arabia's World Trade Organization (WTO) accession.
The bilateral agreement provides new market access opportunities for
U.S. providers of agriculture, goods
and services and sets the stage for Saudi Arabia to complete accession
negotiations with WTO Members. To complete its accession bid, work will
resume in Geneva
to complete required multilateral negotiations.
progress for Saudi
Arabia, the United States
and the WTO," said U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman. "As a result of
negotiations on its accession to the WTO, we will see greater openness,
further development of the rule of law, and political and economic reform
Arabia. We have also increased our
cooperation on bilateral and multilateral issues.
States has been working with
Arabia for over a decade on its Membership
bid. The negotiations have been tough given the complexity of the
issues. Trade Minister Yamani and his team have worked hard to pursue real
economic reforms that will contribute to peace and stability in the
“In my consultations
with Congress, Members expressed their interest in ensuring that
Arabia implements these important
changes. We will be working with Saudi Arabia and our partners to
ensure full compliance with WTO rules. Over the course of the
negotiations, the Administration has consulted closely with the Congress about
America’s concerns and interests,
most particularly Members and Staff of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate
Finance Committee and the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.”
Arabia has confirmed that it will not invoke the
non-application provision of the WTO Agreement and thus will have WTO relations
with all WTO Members. Saudi Arabia has also
confirmed that it will not apply the secondary and tertiary aspects of the Arab
Boycott of Israel.
Arabia has taken important steps to reform its
trade regime, revising legislation, most notably in the areas of intellectual
property protection, import licensing, customs valuation and fees, and standards
and technical regulations. In terms of specific market opening
Arabia has agreed to revise its sanitary and
phytosanitary measures applied to agricultural imports, including shelf-life restrictions and other non-tariff measures that
have long hindered U.S. agricultural exports.
Onerous non-tariff measures and inspection requirements have been lifted,
and replaced with a WTO-compatible system of inspection for health and safety
reasons. Tariff commitments include duty free entry of aircraft and
information technology products and harmonization of tariffs on chemical imports
at very low or zero rates of duty. U.S. service
providers will benefit in particular from new commitments in the distribution,
insurance, banking, and telecommunications sectors, among others.
Arabia has been negotiating its terms of accession
to the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT), and then to the WTO, since
1993. The United
States is the last WTO Member to formally
conclude a bilateral market access agreement with Saudi Arabia.
This agreement and those concluded with other WTO members in the course of
the negotiation will be consolidated. The Report of the Working Party and
Protocol of Accession will become part of Saudi Arabia’s
overall package containing the terms of its accession to the WTO. This
package must be formally approved by WTO Members and then accepted by the
Government of Saudi Arabia. Thirty days after the WTO receives its notice
of acceptance, Saudi
Arabia will become a member of the WTO. No Congressional action is required on
the accession since Saudi
Arabia already receives Permanent Normal Trade
Relations (PNTR) from the United States.