Baucus and McCain Urge Administration to Raise Visibility of Middle East Trade Preference Program
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) U.S. Senators Max Baucus and John McCain today sent the following letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and United States Trade Representative Robert B.Zoellick urging discussions on a Middle East trade preference program during the meeting at theWorld Economic Forum in Jordan this weekend.
June 18, 2003
The Honorable Colin L. Powell
Secretary of State United States
United States Department of State
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20508
The Honorable Robert B. Zoellick
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Powell and Ambassador Zoellick:
We understand that you are both planning to attend the Annual Meeting of the World EconomicForum in Jordan this upcoming weekend. A central topic of discussion at the Annual Meeting willbe trade and economic development in the Middle East. We urge you to include in your discussionson this topic the idea of the offering a trade preference program to the countries of the Middle East.
We support the President’s initiative to create a free trade area for the United States and thecountries of the Middle East by the year 2013, but we believe the United States can do more forthose countries in the short term. That is why we have introduced the Middle East Trade andEngagement Act of 2003. This bill would create a trade preference program under which MiddleEastern countries that meet certain conditions, such as having a market-based economy andsupporting the war on terrorism, would be permitted to export certain goods to the United Statestariff free.
This approach would help stimulate Middle Eastern economies, create jobs, and encourage thosecountries to undertake economic and political reforms. The bill is modelled primarily on the AfricaGrowth and Opportunity Act (“AGOA”), a trade preference program that has advanced theseobjectives in sub-Saharan African countries. USTR’s recent annual report on AGOA states thatAGOA “continues to foster new trading opportunities and investment, create new jobs, and promoteeconomic development.” The report also states that AGOA “supports the efforts of those sub-Saharan African countries undertaking difficult economic, political, and social reforms and providesan incentive for countries considering such reforms.”
We believe that a trade preference program for the Middle East can be as successful for thecountries in the Middle East as AGOA has been for the countries in sub-Saharan Africa. As youmeet with your counterparts from the Middle East and countries around the world, we hope that youwill discuss this important idea.
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