FTA Talks With US on Track

Originally published on Khaleej Times Online, September 15, 2005.

The United States and the UAE took into confidence their respective private sectors before starting their complex negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), to redress all their concerns and apprehensions, if any, said US Ambassador to the UAE, Michele Sision, while talking to Khaleej Times.

Speaking after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation between the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) and the American On-line Trading Academy (OTA), Ms. Michele Sision said that already two round of talks were held in March and May successfully, earlier this year." The process could not slow even during summer vacation, as we continued our parleys through a video conference", she said.

The US ambassador did not comment on any time frame for concluding the negotiations or the items of agenda already agreed. But, she expressed her deep satisfaction over the progress made till now by the negotiators.

To a question, regarding the apprehensions of the UAE banking industry particularly, which fears giant American banking corporations will have a far greater access to the liquidity rich economy of the country, taking business away from local UAE banks, she said both the countries discussed in detail, the wide-ranging agenda for talks and its scope with their respective private sectors, which will get benefit out of it, to incorporate and address their fears and apprehensions, before going for negotiations.

She however, said FTA would double the volume of trade exchanges, providing additional business opportunities to the private sectors in both the countries.

Earlier, a MoU of cooperation was signed by ADCCI director general Mohammed Omar Abdullah and the On-line Trading Academy (OTA) CEO Bahram Khadavi. Under the MoU OTA will make available its latest academic development and expertise to benefit ADCCI's training centre and the Abu Dhabi private sector.

Both parties would mutually coordinate, cooperate and exert every effort for the sake of strengthening their relations in the field of information and electronic trading in local financial markets, besides regular exchange of information and data in an effort to enhance the overall trade and economic activities of the Abu Dhabi private sector through implementation of the curriculum of the academy.

"The UAE has already taken huge strides in the field of internet, telecommunications and on-line services, which has given impetus to sign such an agreement. We will invest all our resources in people who want more knowledge in the field of on-line trading to operate in local and financial markets", said Mohammed Omar Abdullah director general ADCCI.

Michele. J. Sision, the US Ambassador said that volume of trade between both the countries is growing fast and the latest figures suggest a bilateral trade of $5 billion, of which $4 billion represents imports from US while remaining are the export from the UAE.

She said that the MoU underscores the flourishing commercial relationship between both the nations and partnering of the ADCCI with OTA is especially timely given the recent dramatic increase in the level of investment in UAE financial markets

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