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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bush sends Congress US-Bahrain free trade pact legislation


I am pleased to transmit legislation and supporting documents to implement the United States Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (the "Agreement"). This Agreement enhances our bilateral relationship with a strategic friend and ally in the Middle East region and will promote economic growth and prosperity in both nations.

In negotiating this Agreement, my Administration was guided by the objectives set out in the Trade Act of 2002. The Agreement reflects my Administration's commitment to opening markets and expanding opportunities for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses. The Agreement will open Bahrain's market for U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, and services. As soon as it enters into force, the Agreement will eliminate tariffs on all manufactured goods that the United States sells to Bahrain and immediately remove Bahrain's import duties on over 80 percent of U.S. agricultural products. The Agreement is also one of the most comprehensive ever negotiated to reduce barriers to trade in services and will create new opportunities for U.S. services firms.

The Agreement contains procedures that will facilitate cooperation between the United States and Bahrain on environmental and labor matters. The labor chapter of the Agreement reinforces Bahrain's recent legislative actions to expand democracy and improve the protection of worker rights, including trade union rights. Provisions in the Agreement requiring effective enforce ment of environmental laws will contribute to high levels of environmental protection.

The approval of this Agreement will be another significant step towards creating a Middle East Free Trade Area by 2013. This Agreement offers the United States yet another opportunity to encourage economic reform in a moderate Muslim nation as we have done through our free trade agreements with Jordan and Morocco. Leaders in Bahrain are supporting the pursuit of social and economic reforms in the region, encouraging foreign investment connected to broad-based development, and providing better protection for women and workers. It is strongly in our national interest to embrace and encourage these reforms, and passing this legislation is a crucial step toward that end.

November 17, 2005.

Source: The White House

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