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High level backing for Jordan-US free trade deal

Arab-American Congressmen have reaffirmed their backing for a historic agreement that could bring a much needed boost to Jordan’s economic reform efforts.

American Congressmen, Nick Rahall and John Sununu, have offered wholehearted support to the proposed Jordan-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Rahall and Sununu gave their backing at a luncheon hosted by the Arab Bankers Association of North America late last month.

“Jordan has always been a friend and ally to the U.S. and I hope that we can take from this agreement and do it for other countries in the region [mainly Egypt and Saudi Arabia],” Rahall told an audience of around 70 top Arab financial executives. “I hope that this effort will move us closer to working out arrangements with these countries so that they can have entry into the WTO.”

The U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was signed on October 24, 2000, and is believed to be only the fourth bilateral Free Trade Agreement concluded by the USA. The Agreement will eliminate or significantly reduce tariffs on goods traded between the two countries over a ten year period.

Sununu issued a plea to fellow US politicians not to get too hung up on environmental and labour issues. It is unrealistic, he argued, to expect developing countries like Jordan to immediately implement US environmental standards or labour laws.

Rahall and Sununu also touched upon a recent decision to cut $625,000 in military aid to Lebanon and another $35 million if troops aren’t deployed on its southern border in the next six months. All of the six existing Arab-American Congressmen voted against the measure, which was carried in the US Congress by just 216-210.

AJEX, an event dedicated entirely to the Jordan-US Free Trade Agreement, takes place in Amman, Jordan on September 12-13.

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