Bahrain Tribune - 31/01/2006
UAE starts fourth round of FTA talks with US
The UAE was following the lead set in the GCC by Bahrain yesterday when it started its fourth round of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the US in London.
The UAE delegation was led by Dr Mohamed Khalfan bin Khirbash, Minister of State for Finance and Industry and chairman of negotiation council and Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Economy and Planning and co-chair of the negotiation council.
The negotiating team from both sides focused on the areas of services, telecommunications, E-Trade, textile, customs, and rules of origin. Financial services (banking and insurance), investment, intellectual property rights, and government procurement will be also discussed.
Dr Khirbash said: "There has been good progress on the negotiations during the last three rounds of talks and in continuing contacts between the delegations.
"Both negotiating teams have studied the agreement and its appendices and have shared information about regulatory structures, investment and trade environments in both countries. We have reached a common ground in some areas of the agreement mainly environment, standardisation, agriculture, and labour. We are expecting the market access teams to exchange the final proposals about customs exemption in both countries."
The Free Trade Agreement with the US will grant the UAE access to the largest consumer market in the world. UAE and US have preceded the FTA negotiations with a Trade and Investment Frame Work Agreement, which was ratified in April 2004 by the UAE Federal cabinet. However, the agreement will also yield some challenges which the negotiating council and its sub-teams are aware of and attempt to seal an agreement that will benefit the UAE economy and will strengthen the UAE’s position a regional trade and financial hub.