Halaiqa expects Free Trade Agreement with US to be initialed in mid-October
A senior Cabinet minister has said he expected the free trade agreement with the US to be initialed in mid-October, adding that the final round of negotiations made strides towards sealing the deal.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs Mohammad Halaiqa said the Jordanian and US negotiators are to resume their talks "this week via satellite." "We will finalize the latest details to a blueprint that we hope to be initialed in mid-October," added Halaiqa as he briefed the Cabinet on the latest round of talks held in Washington last week.
He stressed that almost all outstanding issues "have been solved" barring certain "technical" arrangements, which will be cleared up next week.
Those issues are pertaining to intellectual property rights, settlement of potential trade disputes and certificates of origin.
Halaiqa headed the Jordanian delegation to the latest round of talks designed to eliminate the remaining hurdles on the path to a final agreement.
US officials said then that Washington and Amman were unlikely to complete such a pact in September, while conceding that the two countries had narrowed their differences.
Hence, they expected an FTA to be concluded this autumn and endorsed by Congress next year.
Jordan said it hoped US internal politics would not jeopardize its chances for gaining an FTA.
The two countries had postponed the final round of talks, initially slated for August, until mid-September. Jordanian officials said then that the US had asked for the delay because of "internal politics" as the heated presidential elections shifted into high gear.
An FTA with the US could give the economy a much-needed boost by attracting foreign investment, officials have said.
Should the negotiations end in success, Jordan will be the fourth country to strike an FTA with the US after Israel, Mexico and Canada. — ( Jordan Times )
By Saad G. Hattar