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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Sea Island, Georgia)
For Immediate Release
June 9, 2004

FACT SHEET: U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA)

"Across the globe, free markets and trade have helped defeat poverty, and taught men and women the habits of liberty. So I propose the establishment of a U.S.-Middle East free trade area within a decade, to bring the Middle East into an expanding circle of opportunity, to provide hope for the people who live in that region."

President Bush
May 9, 2003
Columbia, S.C.

The President's Vision of Free Trade in the Middle East

To re-ignite economic growth and expand opportunity in the Middle East, the President, in May 2003, set out his vision of establishing a U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) by 2013. The MEFTA's focus is to work with countries in the Middle East in graduated steps to increase trade and investment with the United States and the world economy, and to assist these countries in implementing domestic reforms, instituting the rule of law, protecting private property rights (including intellectual property), and creating a foundation for openness, economic growth, and prosperity.

Substantial MEFTA Progress at the One-Year Mark

· Free Trade Agreements (FTAs): U.S. FTAs are comprehensive, high-standard agreements addressing such issues as transparency, the rule of law, anticorruption, and intellectual property protection, that are at the forefront of 21st Century commerce and support economic reform efforts in our FTA partners. U.S. FTAs in the region include:

  • U.S.- Israel FTA (in force)
  • U.S.- Jordan FTA (in force)
  • U.S.- Morocco FTA: completed negotiations on March 2, 2004; formal signing to take place June 15, 2004
  • U.S.- Bahrain FTA: completed negotiations on May 27, 2004

· Robust Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs): TIFAs promote the establishment of legal protections for investors, improvements in intellectual property protection, more transparent and efficient customs procedures, and greater transparency in government and commercial regulations. The United States has TIFAs with: Bahrain, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia (signed July 2003), Kuwait (signed February 2004), Yemen (signed February 2004), United Arab Emirates (signed March 2004), and Qatar (signed March 2004).

· Active Support for WTO Accession: The United States is providing assistance to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Algeria, and Yemen in their WTO accession negotiations.

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