USTR takes country-by-country approach toward Middle East FTA
Assistant US Trade Representative (USTR) Catherine Novelli underscored the importance of a country-by-country approach in the US effort to promote a broad Middle East free trade area by 2013 at a recent Washington International Trade Association forum.
In a January 15, 2004 address, Novelli said the tremendous economic disparities and structural differences between countries in the Middle East are impediments to implementing a "one size fits all" policy.
"What we decided to do was to meet countries where they were and to look at how we could help move them to the next rung and the next rung, and then have an ultimate goal which is the Middle East free trade area that we're reaching for," she said.
Following the highly successful implementation of a free trade agreement between the United States and Jordan in December 2001, the Trade Representative's office entered into negotiations with Morocco in early 2003. Novelli is ironing out the final details of the agreement with Morocco and expects it to be ready for congressional review in the coming weeks. She is scheduled to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) with Bahrain at the end of January.
She said the efforts of the USTR include everything from providing legislative advice and training judges in commercial litigation to publicizing trade opportunities and seeking match-ups between US and foreign companies.
The match-up between Jordanian and American pharmaceutical interests is the sort of linkage the USTR seeks to facilitate. Pharmaceuticals have long been a key export for Jordan, and the industry was identified as an economic sector in which the country had a potential comparative advantage.
Novelli underscored the importance of this strategic commitment. "Economic reform has to come from within, and it has to be a political vision," she said. — (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)