US-Middle East Free Trade Area

US-Middle East Free Trade Area

US-Middle East Free Trade Area

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The U.S. MEFTA initiative started in 2003 with the purpose of creating a U.S. Middle East Free Trade Area by 2013.

The U.S. objective with this initiative has been to gradually increase trade and investment in the Middle East, and to assist the Middle East 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.

Among the stated objectives are:

  • Actively supporting WTO membership of countries in the Middle East and Maghreb
  • Expanding the Generalized System of Preferences that currently provides duty-free entry to the U.S. market for some 3,500 products from 140 developing economies
  • Negotiating Trade and Investment Framework Agreements that establish a framework for expanding trade and resolving outstanding disputes
  • Negotiating Bilateral Investment Treaties with interested countries by obligating governments to treat foreign investors fairly and offering legal protection equal to domestic investors
  • Negotiating comprehensive Free Trade Agreements with willing countries that demonstrate a commitment to economic openness and reform
  • Helping to target more than $1 billion of annual U.S funding and spur partnerships with private organizations and businesses that support trade and development

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