MEFTA

The US-Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) initiative was an ambitious plan to achieve a single free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and all countries between Western Sahara and Iran. It was launched by George W Bush in 2003. As with the old US-ASEAN FTA plan, the idea is to build the FTA bit by bit from the bottom up. Here, in theory, that means pushing all the countries up a scale of necessary conditions: from WTO membership to a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement leading to a bilateral investment treaty and/or an FTA.

The countries targetted to join MEFTA are: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel (and through Israel, the Palestinian Authority), Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria , Tunisia and Yemen.

Bush’s MEFTA project was clearly driven by US geopolitical and "security" interests and not just economic goals. The MEFTA project directly comes up against the EU’s plans for FTAs with the Mediterranean (EMFTA) and the Gulf states.

However, while the US initially set the deadline for MEFTA at 2013, the Obama Administration seems not to have followed through with it in the way that the previous administration had envisaged.

last update: May 2012


    Articles

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  • 19-Dec-2013 Libya Herald US-Libyan trade and investment council agreed
    Libya and the US have signed today a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) which establishes an American-Libyan Council for Trade and Investment to regulate all commercial matters between the two countries
  • 21-May-2010 Dow Jones US, Libya sign trade and investment pact to improve ties
    The US and Libya signed a pact Thursday to facilitate trade and investment between the two nations, marking the latest step in the thaw of past hostilities. Corporate groups led by BP and Chevron called the deal "a milestone".
  • 21-Apr-2009 PR Newswire Espionage and property theft triggers call to suspend Israeli access to US market
    A major legal filing urges the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to suspend preferential Israeli access to the US market.
  • 29-Jan-2009 lescommunistes.org Palestine et Moyen Orient : Combattre le néolibéralisme et le pouvoir des Etats Unis
    L’idée centrale de la stratégie du "Nouveau Moyen Orient" des Etats-Unis est l’intensification des politiques économiques néolibérales - comme la privatisation, les accords de libre échange, la réduction des dépenses du secteur public, l’ouverture à l’investissement étranger, la suppression des subventions d’Etat, etc. - dans tous les Etats de la région.
  • 27-Feb-2008 Gulf Daily News New US push for Mideast free trade deal
    US officials are engaged in "informal" talks with several GCC countries on possibly concluding a Middle East Free Trade Agreement (Mefta) by 2014, it was revealed yesterday.
  • 31-Jan-2008 Al Bawaba Interview: US to push free trade in Middle East
    Carlos M. Gutierrez, the influential and persuasive US Secretary of Commerce plans to use a keynote business conference in Jordan to press home the ambition of the Bush administration to see the establishment of a regional US-Middle East Free Trade Area by the deadline of 2013.
  • 26-Mar-2007 Fakhro, Monroe to lead Kingdom at MEFTA meet
    The US Ambassador William T Monroe and the Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Hassan Abdulla Fakhro will lead the Bahraini team at the Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) Trade and Investment Conference in London on March 29.
  • 18-Dec-2006 Washington File US trade, investment deals in Middle East advance bolder goals
    Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs) the United States signs with countries in the Middle East and North Africa help realize the vision of a regional free trade area integrated with global economy, US officials say.
  • 6-Dec-2006 Peterson Institute A US-Middle East trade agreement: A circle of opportunity?
    In 2003 President George W Bush proposed a US-Middle East free trade agreement (FTA) to bring “an expanding circle of opportunity” to the region. This new book from the Peterson Institute examines whether an FTA can achieve this goal and the trajectory for a likely agreement.
  • 19-Jul-2006 Arab Times Guiterrez holds talks with Kuwaiti officials
    US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez met today with HH the Amir of Kuwait to discuss the Kuwaiti-American commercial dialogue and Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
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    Links

  • USTR on MEFTA
    The US Trade Representative’s webpage dedicated to the US-Middle East FTA.