House narrowly approves trade deal with Oman

Reuters | Thu Jul 20, 2006

House narrowly approves trade deal with Oman

By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday narrowly approved a free trade pact with the Gulf Arab state of Oman, after a debate focused on the safety of U.S. ports and protections for Omani workers.

The House voted 221-205 to strengthen trade and investment ties with the Middle East non-OPEC oil and natural gas producer which has a population of about 3 million.

The Senate approved the deal last month 60-34.

Most Democrats voted against the trade pact, in contrast to an agreement with another Gulf Arab state, Bahrain, that sailed through the House in December by a vote of 327-95.

Oman is next door to Saudi Arabia and to the United Arab Emirates, which is home to Dubai Ports World, the firm whose attempt to purchase U.S. port operations set off a political firestorm earlier this year.

Democrats argued, with support from a few Republicans, that the Oman trade pact raised the same national security concerns by opening the door for an Arab or another foreign company to acquire U.S. port operations.

source: Reuters