The Bush Administration's vision of a Middle East Free-Trade Area came closer to reality on Jan. 19 when the U.S. and Oman signed a bilateral free-trade agreement. Congress must approve the agreement before it can be implemented.
When the agreement takes effect, 100% of consumer and industrial products and 87% of agricultural products will trade duty free, according the White House office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). In 2004, bilateral trade between the U.S. and Oman was a relatively modest $748 million. Of that total, U.S. goods exported to Oman were valued at $330 million. The new pact will expand export opportunities for U.S. producers of automobiles, optic and medical instruments, and electrical machinery, says USTR.
The U.S. already has bilateral free-trade agreements with the Middle Eastern nations of Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Bahrain.