U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement signed
U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick and bahrain's Minister of Finance and National Economy Abdulla Hassan Saif Tuesday signed the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, a comprehensive agreement that will remove trade barriers between the two sides.
Two-way trade was nearly $900 million in 2003. On the first day this agreement goes into effect, 100 percent of consumer and industrial products and 81 percent of U.S. agricultural exports will be duty free. Bahrain will open its services market wider than any previous FTA partner, streamline digital trade, protect intellectual property, facilitate government procurement, and provide for effective enforcement of labor and environmental laws.
Two-way goods trade between the United States and Bahrain amounted to $887 million last year. U.S. goods exports to Bahrain in 2003 totaled $509 million, including aircraft, machinery, vehicles, pharmaceutical products, and toys, games and sports equipment. U.S. exports of agricultural products to Bahrain in 2003 totaled $14 million, including poultry, snack foods, cotton, and processed fruit and vegetables. Bahrain's goods exports to the United States in 2003 totaled $378 million, including articles of apparel and clothing accessories, aluminum, fertilizers, organic chemicals, mineral fuels and oils, plastics, and electrical machinery. Two-way foreign direct investment is about $195 million.
"The U.S.-Bahrain FTA will enhance commercial relations with an economic leader in the Gulf, and set the stage for improving trade relations and expanding openness with other countries in the region, creating prosperity, opportunity, and hope," said Zoellick. "This free trade agreement is the next step for a nation on the move. Free trade negotiations often last more than a year, but Bahrain's decisive embrace of open trade and free markets paved the way for these negotiations to close in four months.
"Last year, President Bush outlined a step-by-step plan to achieve a Middle East Free Trade Area. With the hand of U.S. economic partnership, the United States will embrace and encourage reformers across the region. The 9/11 Commission urged the United States to expand trade with the Middle East and highlighted this FTA with Bahrain, as well as our recently passed FTA with Morocco as examples of positive steps in this direction," said Zoellick, who visited Bahrain in June 2003.
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)