Guly Daily News | 17 November 2004
Oman keen on signing FTA with US
OMAN is keen to follow Bahrain in signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US. "Oman has already started negotiations and preparations for the FTA and is keen to sign an agreement similar to Bahrain’s," said Mr Ba Yacoub.
He said Oman and the US had already signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), aimed at strengthening economic ties and opening channels of communication to discuss a more comprehensive FTA in the future.
The agreement, signed on July 7, stipulates the establishment of an Oman-US Council on Trade and Investment, in which high-level officials from each country will meet to advance trade and investment issues.
Bahrain and the US signed a TIFA before the FTA and the US has also signed TIFAs with Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen.
"Oman, as in the case of other GCC states, is keen to learn from Bahrain’s pioneering experiences that had further promoted its economic status in the region," said Mr Ba Yacoub.
He said that signing the FTA with the US would be instrumental in upgrading his country’s legislation and promoting its investment opportunities.
The Bush administration said on Monday it would begin free trade negotiations with Oman, as well as the UAE, as part of Bush’s efforts to promote economic growth in the Middle East.
US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, in a letter to congressional leaders, said the administration wanted to begin negotiations with both countries early next year, to promote Bush’s goal of creating a Middle East Free Trade Area with the US.
"A free trade agreement with Oman and the UAE will promote the president’s initiative to advance economic reforms and openness in the Middle East and the Gulf,’’ said Zoellick’s letter. The US already has FTAs in the region with Jordan and Morocco.