Oman, US hope to sign free trade deal by year's end
Oman and the United States said Saturday they hoped to conclude a free trade agreement before year’s end as Muscat sought to ease Saudi concerns about bilateral deals between Gulf partners and Washington.
“We are looking for a quick deal, most certainly much earlier than the year-end,” Assistant US Trade Representative Catherine Novelli told a press conference after the first of three-day negotiations on the pact.
Novelli, who said the second round of talks would take place in Washington by mid-April, said negotiations were going “extremely, extremely well.”
“We both have already done homework. We did not see any stumbling blocks,” said Novelli, who chairs the US side in the talks.
Trade and Industry Minister Maqbool bin Ali bin Sultan, who is leading the Omani side, said just before the talks began that he thought negotiations “will be relatively smooth. It should be signed before the end of the year."