UAE-US FTA talks slated in capital
BY IBRAHIM TAHA
12 February 2005
ABU DHABI - The free trade agreement (FTA) negotiation council aims to properly oversee ongoing preparation for the first round of official UAE-US FTA negotiations, due to take place in Abu Dhabi next month, said Dr. Mohammed Khalfan bin Kharbash, UAE Minister of State for Financial and Industrial Affairs.
Earlier last week, the Ministry of Finance and Industry presented a memo to the cabinet to form the council. The cabinet approved the memo and appointed Dr Mohammed Khalfan bin Kharbash and Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Economy and Planning, as the council’s co-chairs. The council comprises of a number of federal and local ministries.
The cabinet assigned the negotiation council to set up several negotiation sub-teams to oversee the sectors that would be subject to negotiation. These include intellectual property, customs, standards and metrology, services, agriculture, labour, environment, textile, government procurement, telecommunications and e-commerce, investment, and financial services such as banks and insurance.
The sub-teams will be set up in order to formulate a comprehensive UAE negotiation strategy, under which all relevant sectors in the negotiation will be dealt with separately and thoroughly, added Dr Kharbash.
The teams will organise workshops and conduct debates with relevant public and private parties in order to finalise their position and requirements from the free trade agreement.
Dr Kharbash said: "The council is made of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Industry, Ministry of Economy and Planning, Ministry of Information and Culture, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Endowment and Islamic Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Transportation, the UAE Central Bank, Federal Customs Authority, the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology, Federal Authority of Environment, Abu Dhabi Department of Economy and Planning, Dubai Ports and Customs and Free Zone Corporation, Telecommunications Regulating Authority, Environmental Research & Wildlife Development Agency, and Tejari.com. The free trade agreement with the US will grant the UAE access to the largest consuming market in the world which will not only foster our bilateral trade and economic relations, but will also impact positively on UAE production and exports."
The UAE cabinet ratified in April 2004 a UAE-US Trade and Investment Frame Work Agreement (TIFA) after it was signed in Washington in March 2004. The TIFA aims to foster an open and predictable environment for international trade and investment and economic cooperation between the two countries.