Cablegate: Bilateral Trade Agenda with Jordan

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A



1. (SBU) Ambassador Gnehm called on Trade Minister
Salah al-Bashir July 1 to keep up the momentum on
bilateral trade issues discussed with AUSTR Cathy Novelli
during the recent World Economic Forum meetings in Jordan
(ref). Bashir also mentioned follow-up on Jordan-Israel-
Palestine and Jordan-Iraq issues he had discussed with
Commerce U/S Aldonas and CPA economic adviser Reuben
Jeffery. Also attending the meeting were Ministry
Director General Amer al-Hadidi, assistant Rami Qussous,
and the Jordanian commercial counselor in Washington,
Maher Matalka, as well as Econ/C Tom Goldberger.

2. (SBU) Accelerated FTA tariff Reductions.

Bashir said he would provide a prioritized list of
requests by July 8. He said the request would focus on
textile products and that Jordan would have no problem
providing symmetrical reductions in its textile tariffs.
Bashir added that he was considering asking for
accelerated reductions other product categories and that
he would clear the entire request with Finance Minister
Marto. PLEASE ADVISE -- Bashir asked how the
accelerations would be implemented on the U.S. side -- is
legislation required?

3. (SBU) Bilateral Government Procurement Agreement.

Bashir said he would seek the Cabinet's approval to make
the same offer to the United States that Jordan had
submitted in the WTO GPA process. He was worried,
however, that Jordan could be led to make concessions in
bilateral negotiations with the U.S. that he would
subsequently be obliged to offer to others in the WTO
process. PLEASE ADVISE -- Bashir asked if procurement in
Jordan using U.S. Foreign Military Assistance (FMF) funds
would be possible after conclusion of a GPA.

4. (SBU) FTA Joint Commission Meeting.

As discussed in Washington last December, Bashir would
like to hold the second JTC meeting in Jordan this fall.
Commercial Counselor Matalka will approach USTR to try to
find a mutually convenient time (Ramadan and the
subsequent Eid will run from approximately from October
25 through the end of November). Bashir would like
Ambassador Zoellick to participate. If it were useful,
he is ready to invite senior technical level officials
from other Arab countries to Amman for follow-up MEFTA
discussions with USTR. He also plans to build an
investment event in Jordan around the FTA meeting.

5. (SBU) Jordan-Israel-Palestine Issues.

Bashir added that he had discussed a possible trilateral
Jordanian-Israeli-Palestinian trade event in the United
States with Commerce Under Secretary Aldonas. He said
that Israeli trade minister Olmert had supported the idea
in Bashir's bilateral meeting with Olmert. Also as
discussed with U/S Aldonas, Bashir will work to get
Israeli approval to expedite trade through the northern
border crossing (Shaikh Hussain) using advanced x-ray
equipment on the Jordanian side. Bashir hoped Secretary
Evans would be able to attend the AmCham-sponsored AJEX
(American Jordanian Exposition) conference that will be
held in Amman October 22-23.

6. (SBU) Jordan-Iraq Issues.

Bashir said that he had also promised Aldonas a paper on
the advantages Jordan offers for trade with Iraq.
Following up on a separate meeting with CPA economic
advisor Reuben Jeffery during the WEF, Bashir said he
would be providing shortly a GOJ-approved "non-paper"
describing outstanding bilateral issues with Iraq,
including the status of the Iraq-Jordan goods for oil
barter protocols, as well as Jordan's potential
contribution to rebuilding the Iraqi government and
economy. He thought this paper could serve as an agenda
for a bilateral meeting with CPA.

7. (SBU) Comment.

Moving forward on the above items -- along with the
planned Joint Environmental Forum that should take place
later this year -- basically constitutes our bilateral
trade agenda with Jordan through the end of the year.
Washington should be aware that between now and the end
of the year there could well be a change in government
following the recent Parliamentary elections. While this
could mean some senior personnel changes, we believe that
any government will see pursuing these initiatives as in
its interest. Nonetheless, it will be important that we
work closely with the Jordanians to maintain the energy
and momentum injected by the WEF meetings. The Embassy
appreciates the engagement of USTR, Commerce, State and
other Washington agencies in building this model
relationship in the region.


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