Kuwaiti delegation kicks off expert-level trade talks with US counterpart

Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) - 07/02/2006

Kuwaiti delegation kicks off expert-level trade talks with US counterpart

WASHINGTON, Feb 7 (KUNA) — US-Kuwaiti trade talks kick off later on Tuesday at the experts-level tackling a number of economic issues ahead of the upcoming round of negotiations of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) that was already signed between the two countries in February 2004.

A Kuwaiti delegation headed by Assistant Undersecretary of Commerce and Industry for Foreign Trade, Hamad Al-Ghanim, who arrived in Washington last night, will hold a series of talks with experts at the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) on issues included in the TIFA agreement.

"The main goal of the meeting between experts from Kuwait and the US is both to bring the two sides into closer understanding on a number of issues related to the TIFA agreement and to prepare for the next second round of negotiations of the TIFA," Kuwaiti Ambassador in Washington Sheikh Salem Al-Sabah told KUNA in a telephone interview.

The first round of negotiations was held in May 2004.

The TIFA agreement, signed between Kuwait and the United States in February 2004, is seen as a prelude and the first step towards concluding a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Sheikh Salem said the Kuwaiti delegation will brief the American side on a number of achievements made in Kuwait in regard to economic reforms.

These economic reforms, he said, will lead up to easing up the process of trade exchange between the two countries as stipulated in the TIFA agreement.

Other issues on the agenda of talks, Sheikh Salem said, will include efforts currently being taken by Kuwait on the issue of Intellectual property rights protection.

This includes efforts to modify some articles of the copyright law to be in line with and in conformity with the international agreements in that regard.

The Office of the US Trade Representative, in its annual 2005 report on Intellectual property rights (IPR), said Kuwait has made progress on this and cited the creation of a special IPR unit in 2004 by Kuwait Customs to enforce copyright laws.

The report also gave credit to the Ministry of Commerce for stepping up enforcement in late 2004.

But it urged Kuwait to toughen its enforcement of copyright laws even further, saying "we urge Kuwait to improve the situation by making public declarations at the highest level that piracy in Kuwait will not be tolerated.

Another issue on the agenda of the Kuwaiti delegation talks will include an in-depth explanation of the modifications on the labor law, which is now in its final stages as well as achievements made on replacing the old ’standardization law’ to a new law that would meet all international standards and requirements, sheikh Salem said.

Thirdly, the Kuwaiti expert delegation will also brief the American side on the actions currently taken in Kuwait in regard to introducing a more openness policy to the telecommunications sector.

Sheikh Salem added that the meeting will also be an opportunity to the Kuwaiti experts to listen from their American counterparts on their experiences on these issues and the possibility of taking benefit of the American expertise.

The Kuwaiti Ambassador praised the level of trade relations between Kuwait and the United States, which is considered Kuwait’s largest trade partner, and expressed Kuwait’s hope that the ongoing trade negotiations would lead to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

US officials said recently that Kuwait is on its way towards a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States that will eventually lead to US President George Bush’s declared vision of a broader Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Middle East by 2012. The officials added that the US hopes that open trade with Kuwait and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council will lead to a more reform policy.

Along with Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, and Yemen are in negotiations with the United States for the FTA. Morocco, Jordan and Bahrain have concluded the Free Trade Agreement with the US

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source: MENAFN