Jordan and the US could be signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) within the next few months. Although a time frame hasn’t been set, Charlene Brashefsky, the Clinton Administrations principal trade advisor is in Amman-Jordan for a three day visit to discuss the sticky issues in the agreement.
According to the Jordan Times on Monday Barshefsky was noncommittal on whether or not a free trade agreement between Jordan and the US could be reached by the hoped for target of September, but said she expected an agreement “reasonably soon.”
Barshefsky was reported by the newspaper as saying “the key is an agreement that both governments find in their interest,” adding “we have no intention of setting time frames. [We have to] put substance first. But I expect that we will see [a result] reasonably soon.”
Jordan is eager to become the fourth country worldwide to enjoy free access to the mega-market, and hopes that a deal can be struck with the Clinton administration before September, when Congress goes into recess.
According to the daily, Barshefsky said an FTA, which local industrialists view with misgiving, will bring more benefits than harm to the local economy. “We would expect to see an increase in two-way trade with Jordan, and the odds are that we would see a hefty increase in favour of Jordan,” she said.
In a statement to the Jordan News Agency, Petra, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Affairs Mohammad Halaiqa after meeting with Barshefsky said there were “sensitive items” concerning customs reductions which have an impact on national industry and budget revenues. Halaiqa said the American negotiators insist on having the same rate of customs reduction. He said also that a comprehensive agreement on some issues in the services sector could not be reached.
However, he said, Jordan and the US have agreed to continue efforts next month to look for solutions for the yet unsettled issues – Albawaba.com
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