US investment in the Middle East at approximately US$90 billion

Al-Hayat - 2005/04/2

The U.S. Investments in the Middle East At Approximately $90 Billion Dollars

Doha - Mohammad Al-Maky Ahmad

Mr. William Lash, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce, stated to Al-Hayat that "the amount of American investments in the Middle East has reached $90 Billion Dollars". He also revealed that the "American private sector investments in Qatar reached three billion dollars while the rate of trade exchange with Qatar is $800 million dollars."

Upon replying to Al-Hayat concerning the negotiation track with Qatar, the Emirates and Sultanate of Oman regarding the Free Trade Agreement, Lash explained that "the U.S. had signed the Trade Investment Facilitation Agreement (TIFA) which shapes one of the stages that precedes signing the free trade agreement" without defining the specific date of the signing.

He also pointed out signing a similar agreement with Saudi Arabia, which is studying the issue of joining the International Trade Organization (ITO). Furthermore, he confirmed signing a free trade agreement with Bahrain but explained that "the Bahraini parliament and the Congress have not yet accredited the agreement."

The American official praised the U.S.-Qatar relations in all the fields while stressing on "the vitality of Qatar’s economy, the prosperous private sector, along with the variety that characterizes it by not depending on fuel and gas alone." He also announced "striving at marketing Qatar as an economical partner In America."

Lash elucidated yesterday, at a limited meeting with journalists, on the margin of his participation in the democracy and free trade conference that Oman will host a conference for the reconstruction in Iraq on April 5. He also mentioned the participation of all the countries that were committed to the reconstruction in addition to stating that Iraq is witnessing the implementation of two thousand construction projects in which companies from American and other countries are participating in along with 40 thousand Iraqis.

Lash stated that in Iraq thousands of schools, health and service establishments have been rehabilitated along with training teachers. He confirmed that the economy in Iraq needs the support of all the companies specialized in the fields of reconstruction and not only in through finance alone but also with their experience and technology as well.

source: Dar Al-Hayat