CalTrade Report, Vol 2. No. 5, 1-15 November 2004
NEW MIDDLE EAST TRADE PROMOTION GROUP FORMED
WASHINGTON, DC - 11/04/04 - A new trade promotion group - the US Middle East Free Trade Coalition (USMEFTA) - has been created to "expand free trade between the US and the Middle East and to encourage economic development, transparent and accountable governance, and enhanced prospects for the people of the Middle East region."
The new group is a joint effort of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), both of which have stated their support of the finalization of a Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) by 2013.
According to the two Washington, DC-headquartered trade promotion groups, "the American business community has a vital stake in strengthening economic and trade ties with countries in the Middle East through a MEFTA."
In a joint statement, the two groups said the new Coalition would work to "support the negotiation and conclusion of commercially meaningful free trade agreements" between the US and governments in the Middle East region; provide "unified and overarching US business leadership and commitment to the MEFTA vision;" establish "an umbrella business group to oversee and focus on the key components of MEFTA through a range of educational, advocacy, outreach, and other activities;" and provide "an efficient, broad-based business mechanism and steady pool of corporate chairs to lead future bilateral FTA business coalition efforts."
The 400-member NFTC and the BCIU will jointly serve as the co-secretariat of the Middle East Free Trade Coalition "with interested corporate leaders serving as business chairs of individual country FTA Task Forces supporting the advocacy and negotiating effort of future FTA negotiations," the statement said.
The Coalition "will provide the United States with a great opportunity to forge better relations in an increasingly volatile part of the world," commented BCIU Vice President Jeffrey Donald.
Both the NFTC and the BCIU lobbied strongly earlier this year in support of the recent FTA negotiations with Morocco and Bahrain.
US-based firms and trade promotion organizations interested in participating in the new US Middle East Free Trade Coalition can get further information by visiting either www.nftc.org or www.bciu.org or by calling the National Foreign Trade Council at 202-887-0278.