UAE, US move towards FTA
BY HASEEB HAIDER
7 October 2004
ABU DHABI - The UAE and US yesterday made a significant progress towards a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as most of the technical hurdles in this regard have been removed, paving the way for negotiations to start in the near future.
The UAE-US Joint Council for Trade and Investment held its second meeting in Washington yesterday to carry forward the March 2004 Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) initiative to cement closer trade and economic ties between the two countries.There was confirmation at the meeting that no real obstacles remained in the way of a full Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The Joint Council meeting saw significant progress made in important areas identified during the inaugural meeting of the council, held in April 2004.
The UAE delegation headed by Sultan bin Naser Al Suwaidi, the Central Bank Governor, on behalf of Dr. Mohammed Khalfan bin Kharbash, UAE Minister of State for Financial and Industrial Affairs (MOFI), went away from the meeting convinced its talks with Catherine Novelli, the Assistant US Trade Representative, ended on a positive note.
Khaled Ali Al Bustani, Assistant Under-secretary for Budget and Resources at MOFI and a member of the UAE delegation, said after the meeting: ’The aim was to move closer to the targets this council was set up to achieve. The purpose of our discussion was to create opportunities for deeper economic cooperation, to foster a healthy environment for investment, and define any hurdles to trade between our two countries.’
On the sideline of this meeting, the UAE-US technical committees met to discuss issues relating to the FTA, as a preliminary stage to negotiate between the two countries. Al Bustani, who headed the UAE side in these meetings, confirmed that most of the technical hurdles to an FTA had been removed, paving the way for negotiations to start in the near future.
The mainstream discussion concentrated on topics such as organising labour in both countries and fostering intellectual property (IPR).
The UAE’s decision to sign the Information Technology Agreement was hailed as a step forward and its customs evaluation procedures singled out as an area in which progress could be made.