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Saudi-US TIFA designed to boost ties after Sept. 11 events

TIFA Designed to Boost Ties After Sept. 11 Events

8 August 2003

Javid Hassan

Arab News Staff

RIYADH, - Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Hashim Yamani and US Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick signed in Washington last week a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) designed to boost bilateral relations in the wake of the Sept. 11 events and the Iraq war. The agreement, signed in Washington on July 31, was released by the US Embassy here yesterday.

The TIFA establishes a United States-Saudi Arabia Council on Trade and Investment comprising representatives from each country and chaired by the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The Council will establish a permanent dialogue to expand trade and investment between the two countries at least once a year. Both parties may be assisted by officials of other government agencies.

US goods exports to the Kingdom were valued at $4.3 billion last year. The figure includes aircraft, mechanical appliances, vehicles, electrical machinery, cereals, and pharmaceutical products. US imports from the Kingdom during the same period totaled $12.2 billion, including mineral fuels and oils, organic and inorganic chemicals and fertilizers. This represents a drop over the previous year when US exports to the Kingdom stood at $6.2 billion, while its imports from this country was $14 billion.

The agreement recognizes the need to eliminate non-tariff barriers so as to facilitate greater access to the markets of both countries. It also seeks to provide measures for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights and the importance of adherence to international intellectual property rights standards. The agreement commits both sides to encouraging and facilitating exchange of goods and services and securing favorable conditions for long-term development and diversification of trade between them. It also seeks to promote an attractive trade and investment climate between the two countries and facilitate expanded contacts between their respective private sectors. It stipulates that the council will monitor trade and investment relations so as to identify opportunities for expanding trade and investment. It will also seek the advice of the private sector from both sides on matters related to the work of the Council. Private sector representatives may be asked to participate in Council meetings.

An important objective of the agreement is to promote an investment climate as a means of furthering growth, creating jobs, expanding trade, enhancing economic development, and improving technology. Article 4 of the agreement stipulates that both parties “shall consider whether further agreements relating to trade, intellectual property, investment, vocational training, labor, environmental issues, and any other matters agreed upon by the parties would be desirable.”