The United States and Bahrain signed a free-trade agreement (FTA) Sept. 14, in a move aimed at boosting economic and trade ties in the Middle East. The agreement, which still must be ratified by the U.S. Congress, was signed by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and Bahrain's Minister of Finance and National Economy Abdulla Hassan Saif. If the agreement goes into effect, it would result in an immediate lifting of duties on 100% of consumer and industrial products and 81% of U.S. agricultural exports. "Bahrain will open its services market wider than any previous FTA partner, streamline digital trade, protect intellectual property, facilitate government procurement and provide for effective enforcement of labor and environmental laws," the U.S. trade representative's office (USTR) said. Two-way trade was $887 million in 2003, according to USTR, with U.S. exports totaling $509 million. "This new trade opening will expand opportunities for exports of aircraft, machinery, vehicles, pharmaceutical and agricultural products such as meats, fruits and vegetables, cereals, and dairy products," USTR said.