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UAE upbeat on trade pact with US

Gulf News | Dubai | By Dalal Abu Ghazaleh, Staff Reporter | 19/09/2004

UAE upbeat on trade pact with US

The UAE is ready to enter negotiations with the United States for a full-fledged free trade agreement that would dramatically boost trade and the flow of investment between both countries.

"We are looking forward to signing the agreement in less than a year," Mohammad Khalfan Bin Kharbash, UAE Minister of State for Financial and Industrial Affairs, told the American Business Council yesterday.

Kharbash said the FTA would automatically eliminate the need for trade sponsorships that have in the past been cited by American business leaders as hampering trade flow between the two partners.

But he did not say whether the elimination of the sponsorships would affect other countries.

"It goes without saying that the signing of a full-fledged Free Trade Agreement in the fullness of time will constitute a significant milestone in our efforts to drive forward economic progress here.

"It is our hope that this will lead to the introduction of an even greater number of vibrant American businesses to our shores, and increase UAE business in your country," he added.

"The ties between our countries have been consistently characterised by a mutual willingness to cooperate and develop our cordial relationship.

"The American model of hard work, economic prosperity and entrepreneurship is one that we aspire to here in the UAE," said Kharbash in his opening remarks.

Asked whether the UAE was planning to impose corporate taxes on profits, he said: "As General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defence Minister has stated, there will be no introduction of taxes."

Negotiations for the aspired Free Trade Agreement have been facilitated by a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa) signed by the US and UAE in March.

"The UAE has solved the pharmaceuticals and copyright problems before signing Tifa.

"We will negotiate only the financial services issue when start the FTA negotiation," Kharbash said.

The UAE has maintained strong ties with the US for the past three decades and with the volume of trade that both countries are benefiting from, it is crucial to strengthen the relationship by creating new prospects for business, he said.

Khalid Al Bustani, assistant deputy minister for budget and revenue affairs in the Ministry of Finance and Industry, said that the UAE’s strategic location, political stability, growing economy and its word-class infrastructure all contribute to the success of its partnership with the US.

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 source: Gulf News