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4th Round of UAE-US FTA negotiations begin

posted on 31/01/2006: 2234 views

The UAE and US will resume their fourth round of FTA negotiations today in London. The negotiations will focus on vital issues of common interest to both countries. The UAE delegation is led by Dr. Mohamed Khalfan bin Kharbash, Minister of State for Finance and Industry and chairman of negotiation council and Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Economy and Planning and co-chair of the negotiation council.

The negotiating team from both sides will focus on the areas of services, telecommunications, E-Trade, textile, customs, and rules of origin. Financial services (banking and insurance), investment, intellectual property rights, and government procurement will be also discussed. "There has been good progress on the negotiations during the last three rounds of talks and in continuing contacts between the delegations," said Dr. Kharbash.

"Both negotiating teams have studied the agreement and its appendices and have shared information about regulatory structures, investment and trade environments in both countries. We have reached a common ground in some areas of the agreement, mainly environment, standardization, agriculture, and labour. We are expecting the market access teams to exchange the final proposals about customs exemption in both countries," added Dr. Kharbash.

Dr. Kharbash noted that this round will see the customs, textile, government procurement and legal teams negotiating some areas of the agreement, while financial services and investment teams will discuss the appendices corresponding to their areas of focus.

The Free Trade Agreement with the US will grant the UAE access to the largest consumer market in the world. UAE and US have preceded the FTA negotiations with a Trade and Investment Frame Work Agreement, which was ratified in April 2004 by the UAE Federal cabinet. However, the agreement will also yield some challenges which the negotiating council and its sub-teams are aware of and attempt to seal an agreement that will benefit the UAE economy and will strengthen the UAE's position a regional trade and financial hub.

The negotiating sub-teams have been consulting with the stakeholders from the private sector given the importance of the public-private sector partnership in establishing the UAE's position with regards to the substantive issues arising from the agreement. Several meetings with Chambers of Commerce, business, professional and industrial associations and other private sector representative bodies have been organized to find a common position on which the negotiation councils bases its negotiation stances.

The agreement will have a positive impact on the private sector in terms of raising the standards of work and performance and improving the external competitiveness of the UAE businesses and economy. The negotiation council aims to arrive at the best deal and the best outcome for the UAE. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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