Middle East Free Trade Area
On May 9, 2003, President George W. Bush proposed the establishment of a Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) within a decade, "which would link 22 Arab nations, Israel and the United States by 2013." 
- "Across the globe, free markets and trade have helped defeat poverty, and taught men and women the habits of liberty. So I propose the establishment of a U.S.-Middle East free trade area within a decade, to bring the Middle East into an expanding circle of opportunity, to provide hope for the people who live in that region." --President George W. Bush, May 9, 2003.
Existing Free Trade Agreements
According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the following is the status of Middle East trade agreements as of March 2, 2006:
- U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement (in force since 1985)
- U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (in force since 1990)
- U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (in force since 2005) 
- U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (signed September 2004, entry into force in 2006) 
- U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement (negotiations concluded September 2005)
- U.S.-United Arab Emeriates (UAE) Free Trade Agreement (launched negotiations March 2005)
On May 9, 2003, President George W. Bush "proposed a plan of graduated steps for Middle Eastern nations to increase trade and investment with the United States and others in the world economy. The first step is to work closely with peaceful nations that want to become members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in order to expedite their accession. As these countries implement domestic reform agendas, institute the rule of law, protect property rights (including intellectual property), and create a foundation for openness and economic growth, the United States will take a series of graduated steps with countries in the region tailored to their level of development. The U.S. will expand and deepen economic ties through Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs), Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), and comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), and will enhance the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program for eligible countries." --Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
Related SourceWatch Resources
- Arab-American Institute
- Business Council for International Understanding
- Catherine A. Novelli
- DP World
- Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- forward strategy of freedom
- free trade
- National Foreign Trade Council
- post-war Iraq
- road map to peace
- Trade Act of 2002
U.S. Government Data & Documents
- "Middle East Free Trade Area Initiative," Office of the United States Trade Representative website.
- U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area and Middle East Initiatives and Activities Related to Trade and Investment, U.S. Department of State website.
- Fact Sheet: "Proposed Middle East Initiatives," White House, May 9, 2003.
- "USTR Zoellick on Global Trade and the Middle East. Outlines a variety of strategies for the region," U.S. Department of State, June 23, 2003.
- Fact Sheet: "Middle East Free Trade Initiative," Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, June 23, 2003.
- "US-Middle East Free Trade Area. Fact Sheet: US-Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA)," White House, June 9, 2004.
- CBO Summary: "The Pros and Cons of Pursuing Free-Trade Agreements," Congressional Budget Office, July 31, 2003.
- Text of the G8 Plan of Support for Reform in the Broader Middle East and North Africa, White House, June 9, 2004.
- "Trade Negotiations in the 108th Congress" prepared by Ian F. Fergusson, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division, and Lenore M. Sek, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division, Congressional Research Service, Updated October 12, 2004.
- HR 4340: "Statement of Why the United States – Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Is In the Interest of U.S. Commerce," U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, 109th Congress.
- "Middle East Free Trade Area: Progress Report" prepared by Mary Jane Bolle, Specialist in International Trade, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division, Congressional Research Service, Updated February 8, 2005.
- "Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) Two Years Later," Catherine Novelli, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Europe and the Mediterranean, Foreign Press Center Briefing, Washington, DC, May 6, 2005.
- "Middle East Free Trade Area: Progress Report" prepared by Mary Jane Bolle, Specialist in International Trade, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division, Congressional Research Service, Updated January 27, 2006.
Related Trade Initiatives
- BMENAI: "The Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative: An Overview" prepared by Jeremy M. Sharp, Middle East Policy Analyst, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division, Congressional Research Service, Updated February 15, 2005.
- MEPI: "The Middle East Partnership Initiative: An Overview" prepared by Jeremy M. Sharp, Middle East Policy Analyst, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division, Congressional Research Service, Updated February 8, 2005.
- Middle East Free Trade Area in the Wikipedia.
- "UAE - Trade and Diplomatic Relations with the US," Meepas.
- U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, website.
- U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, website.
- U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, website.
- U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement website.
- U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, website.
- U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement website.
- U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, website.
Articles & Commentary
- Aluf Benn, "U.S. to call for democratization of Arab countries. Powell speech to outline 'New Middle East'," Haaretz Daily, October 25, 2002: "Powell will also announce a new 'economic partnership initiative' for the region, and will urge the establishment of a Middle East free trade zone."
- "Bush proposes Mideast free-trade zone. 'The momentum of freedom is growing'," CNN, May 9, 2003.
- "Middle East Road Map – A Useful Cover Story," DEBKAfile, May 10, 2003.
- Mike Allen and Karen DeYoung, "Bush Calls Trade Key To Mideast. President Launches Plan For U.S. Pact in Region," Washington Post, May 10, 2003.
- "Is the Middle East Free Trade Agreement Idea Workable?" Arab News, May 12, 2003.
- Khaled Dawoud, "Bush's dubious carrot. US President George Bush offers a 'sweetener', if Arab countries conform to his vision for the region: A US-Middle East free trade area within a decade," Al-Ahram Weekly, May 15-21, 2003.
- Matthew E. Berger, "Bush's Mideast free trade zone seen as a 'Trojan carrot'," Jewish Telegraphic Agency (The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California), May 16, 2003.
- Anuradha Mittal, "Open Fire and Open Markets - Strategy of an Empire," Food First (ThirdWorldTraveler.com), Summer 2003.
- Richard N. Haass, "Remaking the Middle East," Council on Foreign Relations, June 2003.
- Emad Mekay, "US Maps Out Ambitious Middle East Deal," Inter Press Service (Global Policy), June 23, 2003.
- Emad Mekay, "$1bn sweetener for trade plan," Asia Times, June 25, 2003.
- "Reconstructing the Middle East. But it all depends on Iraq," The Economist, June 26, 2003: "America's plans for a Middle Eastern free-trade area may stand or fall by what happens in Iraq. As pipelines explode and soldiers are killed, that's not good."
- Pete W. Moore, "The Newest Jordan: Free Trade, Peace and an Ace in the Hole," Middle East Report Online, June 26, 2003.
- Debra Glassman, Opinion: "Bush tries to recycle Cold War-era policy," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 1, 2003.
- Hans Lebrecht, "Road map leads to free trade zone," Guardian (UK), July 2, 2003: "This zone would be dominated by US monopoly corporations, and set-up to oust the European Union, particularly Germany and France, from their current position of being the main trading partners in the region. Bush's real aim is to strengthen the 'New World Order' globalisation policy in the interests of the leading capitalist power and its big corporations."
- Reese Erlich, "Arab Thumbs Down on Free Trade," AlterNet (GlobalPolicy.org), July 16, 2003.
- Daniel T. Griswold, "Free Trade Tills the Soil of Democracy," Cato Institute, July 30, 2003.
- Peter Slevin, "U.S. Promises Democracy in Middle East. Rice Calls for 'Generational Commitment'," Washington Post (MiddleEast.org), August 8, 2003.
- Debra Glassman, "Wrinkles on Roadmap to Middle East Peace," UW Business, Fall 2003.
- Antonia Juhasz, "The Corporate Invasion of Iraq," LeftTurn Magazine, August/September 2003 (The Bush Agenda, June 22, 2003).
- Brink Lindsey, "Bush As Trader. One step forward, two steps back," Center for Trade Policy Studies, September 15, 2003.
- Nick Mathiason and Faisal Islam, "West wins trade war in secret ... on how the US and EU are having the last laugh despite the WTO revolt," Guardian (UK), September 21, 2003.
- Maghawri Shalabi Ali, "Economic and Political Implications of the MEFTA Initiative," The International Politics Journal, October 2003.
- Peter J. Robertson, "Middle East to play centre stage in future of global energy needs," Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections, December 31, 2003.
- Antonia Juhasz, "Capitalism gone wild - Iraq," Tikkun (The Bush Agenda), January-February 2004.
- Antonia Juhasz, "Ambitions of Empire: The Bush Administration Economic Plan for Iraq (and Beyond)," LeftTurn Magazine, February/March 2004 (The Bush Agenda, January 20, 2004).
- Brian Katulis, "Use Free Trade Agreements to Fight Corruption and Promote Democracy," Center for American Progress, March 16, 2004.
- Emad Mekay, "US senators want Middle East trade tied to reform," Inter Press Service (foodfirst.org), March 17, 2004.
- Gilbert Achcar, "Fantasy of a Region That Doesn't Exist. Greater Middle East: the US plan," Le Monde diplomatique, April 4, 2004.
- Antonia Juhasz, "The Economic Colonization of Iraq: Illegal and Immoral. International Forum on Globalization Testimony to the World Tribunal on Iraq," New York, May 8, 2004.
- Aziz Choudry, "Operation enduring free trade: War, the Middle East and Bush’s bilateral free trade and investment crusade," Bilaterals.org, May 11, 2004; ZMag, May 21, 2004.
- lenin, "Another Shibboleth Bites the Dust," Lenin's Tomb Blogspot, June 22, 2004.
- Brett D. Schaefer and Anthony B. Kim, "It's About More Than Trade," Heritage Foundation, July 20, 2004.
- Nir Rosen, "How the Middle East is really being remade," Asia Times, May 21, 2004.
- Edwin J. Feulner, John C. Hulsman, and Brett D. Schaefer, "Free Trade by Any Means: How the Global Free Trade Alliance Enhances America's Overall Trading Strategy," Heritage Foundation, August 10, 2004.
- Naomi Klein, "Baghdad Year Zero. Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia," Harpers, September 2004 (posted online September 24, 2004): "... the most common explanation for what has gone wrong in Iraq, a complaint echoed by everyone from John Kerry to Pat Buchanan: Iraq is mired in blood and deprivation because George W. Bush didn’t have 'a postwar plan.' The only problem with this theory is that it isn’t true. The Bush Administration did have a plan for what it would do after the war; put simply, it was to lay out as much honey as possible, then sit back and wait for the flies."
- Emad Mekay, "US business pushing for Middle East FTA," Inter Press Service, October 7, 2004.
- "US business pushing for Middle East FTA. Major US corporations are joining forces to lobby for a US-Middle East Free Trade Agreement (MEFTA) that President George W Bush proposed in 2003," Bilaterals.org, October 8, 2004.
- Rami Abdelrahman, "Jordan welcomes US' MEFTA," Jordan Times, November 8, 2004.
- "New Middle East Trade Promotion Group Formed," CalTradeReport, November 12, 2004.
- Jeffrey Sparshott, "U.S. eyes free trade treaties in Gulf," Washington Times (Citizens Trade Campaign), November 16, 2004.
- Paul Blustein, "U.S. Free-Trade Deals Include Few Muslim Countries," Washington Post, December 3, 2004 (archived copy).
- "Cash-strapped Jordan aims high. The cash-strapped kingdom is lobbying the world to invest in its economic growth," AME Info, December 11, 2004.
- Emad Mekay, "TRADE: Egypt Signs On to U.S.-Israel Model," Inter Press Service, December 14, 2004.
- Joseph E. Mulligan, S.J., "Colin Powell: Crusader for U.S. Multinational Corporations," The Witness Magazine, December 15, 2004.
- Emad Mekay, "CHALLENGES 2004-2005: U.S. Trade Tactic Splits Arab States," Inter Press Service, December 22, 2004.
- Press Release: "US-Middle East Free Trade Coalition Congratulates Moroccan Parliament on Passage of FTA," Bilaterals.org, January 25, 2005.
- Emad Mekay, "Record Deficit Challenges Free Trade Assumptions," Inter Press Service (globalexchange.org), February 10, 2005.
- "Gulf Nations Are Open for Business," Patton Boggs, March 2, 2005 (Reprinted with permission from Counsel to Counsel, January 2005).
- News Release: "United States to Begin Free Trade Negotiations This Week with the United Arab Emirates and Oman," Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, March 8, 2005.
- Linda Heard, "US Free Trade Agreements Split Arab Opinion," Al-Jazeerah, March 9, 2005.
- Saul Landau and Farrah Hassen, "Bush’s Vision Of Arab Democracy Vs Two Reports," ZMag, April 15, 2005: "Two new reports on economics ('Arab World Competitiveness Report 2005') and politics ('Towards Freedom in the Arab World,' launched in Amman, Jordan on April 5, 2005) in the Arab states dramatized what all astute observers already knew: the Arab region is a mess and US policies have exacerbated the situation."
- Fred Barnes, "Meet America's trade czar: Bill Thomas, the House of Representatives' tax chief has a surprising new role," The International Economy (findarticles.com), Summer 2005.
- Maggie Mitchell Salem, "Bush and the Arab street," Asia Times, June 2, 2005: "Last year it was MEFTA (Middle East Free Trade Agreement), the year before MEPI (Middle East Partnership Initiative) and now the re-invigorated BMENA (Broader Middle East and North Africa)."
- Antonia Juhasz, Opinion: "Bush's economic invasion of Iraq. U.S. corporations march into Baghdad, at the expense of self-determination," Los Angeles Times (The Bush Agenda), August 14, 2005.
- "Patton Boggs Launches Innovative Middle East Contracting Newsletter," Patton Boggs, September 7, 2005: "Middle East Contracting: Contracting with the U.S. Government in the Middle East."
- "Building business on a firm friendship. U.S.-Kuwaiti Relations. Allies in the Pursuit of Regional Stability, the Two Nations Are Forging Stronger Economic and Commercial Links," Summit Reports, September 18, 2005.
- Gary G. Yerkey, "U.S. 'Dillydallying' Over Free Trade Pact With Egypt, but Talks Expected to Begin Soon," BNA, Inc. International Trade Reporter, September 29, 2005.
- "US, Oman reach free trade agreement. Tree trade agreement between Oman and US is to be signed within the next 90 days," Middle East Online, October 4, 2005.
- Maggie Michael, "New industrial zone declared, two others expanded in US-Egypt-Israel trade deal," Associated Press (Citizens Trade Campaign), November 1, 2005.
- "Arabs Blast U.S. ‘Big Brother’ Approach to Bilateral Free Trade Agreements. Participants at Bahrain Talks Insist Trade Deals Meant to Serve American Interests," Agence France Presse (Citizens Trade Campaign), November 11, 2005.
- "More openness in FTA talks sought," Trade Arabia (Citizens Trade Campaign), November 26, 2005: "The UAE authorities have been urged to be more transparent in handling the Free Trade Agreement talks with the United States."
- Charlene Barshefsky, "With or Without Doha," Foreign Affairs / Council on Foreign Relations, December 2005.
- "U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Initiative," 2006 California Business Issues, California Chamber of Commerce.
- Mary Lou Malig, "Accession through the Backdoor. How the US is Pushing Iraq into the WTO," Focus on the Global South (GlobalPolicy.org), January 2006. (Chapter from the Report "Destroy and Profit: Wars, Disasters, and Corporations"; see below.)
- "Morocco Free Trade Agreement Benefits U.S. Grain Industry," Grainnet.com, January 6, 2006.
- "Bahrain Pact Signed by Bush," Reuters (Citizens Trade Campaign), January 12, 2006.
- Rosalind McLymont, "Trade experts see positive signs," Florida Shipper, January 16, 2006.
- Doug Palmer, "US signs trade pact with Oman, keeps Egypt on hold," Reuters (Citizens Trade Campaign), January 19, 2006.
- Antonia Juhasz, "In Iraq, 'it's the oil, stupid'," Topeka Capital Journal (The Bush Agenda), January 21, 2006.
- Emad Mekay, "Oman Pact Boosts US Agenda in the Middle East," Inter Press Service (Khilafah.com), January 22, 2006.
- Walden Bello, "Destroy and Profit: Wars, Disasters and Corporations," Focus on the Global South, January 24, 2006 (3MB pdf).
- Jonathan Powell, "Free Trade Agreements: The Quiet Economic Track of U.S. Middle East Policy," Washington Institute for Near East Policy, February 13, 2006.
- Emad Mekay, "U.S. Free Traders Retreat on UAE Ports Deal," Inter Press Service, February 18, 2006.
- "Commerce Secretary Gutierrez to Travel to the Middle East. Goal of Visit: Promote Stronger U.S.-Middle East Commercial Relations," U.S. Department of Commerce, February 24, 2006.