logo logo

Oman expects FTA with US by year end

Daily Times, Pakistan, 13 March 2005

Oman expects FTA with US by year end

Negotiations start today

MUSCAT: The Sultanate of Oman has expressed hope that the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with the USA, for which negotiations are to start on Saturday, would be concluded before the end of this year to give a new edge to Oman’s liberal economy in an era of globlisation.

A senior official of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in a statement released by the official news agency ONA that the free trade agreement will undoudtedly help boost Omani exports through increasing the volume of of trade with the United States.

“The Sultanate also looks forward to attracting investment from the US,” said Khalfan bin Said Al-Rahbi, Director of Organisations and Conferences at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The agreement will help import advanced US technology and provide Omanis with more jobs. He said this round will be followed by another one in Washington.

There is no conflict between the World Trade Organisation principles and the signing of bilateral agreements between any two WTO member countries.

The three-day negotitations will be headed by Minister of Commerce and Industry Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, while the United States team will be led by Assistant Trade Representative for Europe and the Midditerenean, Cathy Novelli.

Al-Rahbi said the two sides will discuss a number of topics, including the liberlisation of trade in agriculture and industrial products, finanicial and telecommunications services, e-commerce, customs procedures and intellectual property rights.

Also discussed will be health procedures, labour issues, environment, investment and textile, he said, adding the proposed agreement comes in the wake of a Trade and Investment Frame Agreement signed in Washingtion last July, which led to the formation of an Oman-US Trade and Investment Council in last September.

Al Rahibi said the Omani negotiating side was fully poised to “achieve maximum gains for the Omani economy,” adding the agreement was also in keeping with the ‘government’s policies to integrate into the global economy.

Oman will be the second GCC state after Bahrain to sign FTA. The UAE is also on the course, having finsihed advanced negotiations with United States in Abu Dhabi during past few days, with Washington allaying Saudi Arabia’s fears that an FTA with a GCC state would weaken the six-member Gulf Co-operation Council which was founded in Abu Dhabi in 1980.

Riyadh would also be included in the fold once it becomes a WTO member, Novelli told a press conference before the start of negotiations in Abu Dhabi.

A statement released by the US Embassy here said: “An FTA with UAE and Oman will build on the FTAs that we already have with Jordan, Morocco and Bahrain. It will also encourage the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to adopt standards that promote trade and investment.”

— AA

 source: Daily Times