The Daily Star (Beirut)
US, Lebanon ink framework deal to foster bilateral trade
Daily Star staff
December 01, 2006
BEIRUT: Shaun Donnelly, assistant US trade representative for Europe and the Middle East, and Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade Sami Haddad signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) on Wednesday to provide a forum for expanding and strengthening bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries.
"Today’s signing of the TIFA is a part of a comprehensive US effort to support the Lebanese government" Donnelly said. "The United States’ mission is to help Lebanon meet the needs of its people and build a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future. Expanded trade and investment between our two countries can play a vital role in achieving these objectives."
"The TIFA signals the commitment of our two governments to work in a concrete and comprehensive manner to expand bilateral economic ties," Donnelly added. "It will be an important means through which the United States can further its efforts to help promote Lebanese economic development, create jobs, and further integrate Lebanon into the global economy."
The signing ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman.
The US has generally taken steps to promote free trade throughout the region and between the region and the United States. The US said it would take a graduated step-by-step approach to creating a free-trade area with Middle Eastern countries interested and willing to open their economies and liberalize their trade regimes.
The US-Lebanon TIFA creates a Joint Council that will consider a wide range of commercial issues and sets out basic principles underlying the two nations’ trade and investment relationship. The council will establish a permanent dialogue with the expectation of expanding trade and investment between the United States and Lebanon.
American goods exports to Lebanon in 2005 were valued at $466 million, and included machinery, vehicles, and electrical equipment. American exports of agricultural products to Lebanon were valued at $63 million, including coarse grains and tree nuts. US goods imports from Lebanon in 2005 were valued at $92 million, including precious stones, furniture and bedding, and inorganic chemicals. US imports of agricultural products from Lebanon in 2005 were valued at $17 million.