January 15, 2007
UAE Free Trade Agreement with US at Risk
(EUNN) London - Free trade negotiations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States is at risk of unraveling if an agreement can not be reached next month, UAE government officials said Monday.
The undersecretary of the UAE’s Ministry of Finance and Industry told reporters that with Democrats now controlling the American Congress, odds of working out a new free trade agreement with the United States are less likely.
Overhanging concerns by the UAE government were over the United States’ Democrats row over the DP port deal in which DP World had acquired the British company, P&O, that owned and operated U.S. ports. "It’s a matter that seriously effected the course of negotiations," a UAE diplomat said.
Each emirate has a different policy on granting concessions for oil exploration since their crude and gas reserves vary. So a unified agreement, tackling the issue at the national level, is almost impossible.
Foreign investments are also received through varying processes, and accordingly a collective agreement can be as difficult.
In the United States, Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council told reporters last week that it was up to the UAE to decide whether it wanted to kill the deal with the United States or not.
Coming behind the United States is Great Britain, which is trying to secure its own free trade agreement with countries in the Middle East.
At the crux of the U.S. deal with the UAE is energy. U.S. oil and gas exploration and development companies stand to lose billions if the Bush administration cannot workout a free trade deal in time.