US, Oman reach free trade agreement

Xinhua, 4 October 2005

US, Oman reach free trade agreement

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (Xinhuanet) — The United States and Oman have reached a free trade agreement (FTA) to eliminate tariffs and barriers and expand trade between both countries, US Trade Representative Rob Portman and Omani Minister of Commerce and Industry Maqbool Bin Ali Sultan announced Monday.

"This is a high-quality, comprehensive free trade agreement that will contribute to economic growth and trade between both countries," Portman said. His comments came in a joint teleconference with Maqbool Bin Ali, who participated from Oman.

Under the US-Oman FTA, 100 percent of two-way trade in industrial and consumer products will become duty-free as soon as the agreement takes effect, with a phase-out of agriculture tariffs over 10 years.

The FTA will not go into effect until it has been approved by both the House and the Senate. Under the Trade Act of 2002, the Bush administration must notify Congress at least 90 days before signing the agreement.

The administration will continue to consult with the Congress on the agreement and will soon send a formal notification of its intent to sign the US-Oman FTA to Capitol Hill, according to a press release by the Trade Representative Office.

Two-way goods trade between the United States and Oman was 748 million dollars in 2004, said the press release. US goods exports to Oman last year totaled 330 million dollars, including machinery, automobiles optic and medical instruments, and electrical machinery.

The United States has so far reached free trade agreements with the Arab countries of Jordan, Morocco and Bahrain. The deals with Jordan and Morocco have been cleared by Congress and the Bush administration hopes to win congressional approval later this year for the agreement with Bahrain.

In addition, the United States and the United Arab Emirates are currently negotiating a free trade agreement.

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source: Xinhua