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Thesis & Antithesis

A critical perspective on energy, international politics & current affairs

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

11 March 2006

The US-UAE Free Trade Area

This is from Al Jazeera: “The United States and United Arab Emirates have postponed free trade talks, the US Trade Representative's office said on Friday, a day after a Dubai state-owned company said it would give up US port management operations to calm a political furor” (link). The Los Angeles Times reports on the same story: “The United States will resume talks in March on a free-trade pact with the United Arab Emirates despite an uproar over the Bush administration’s approval of a deal to allow a UAE company to operate terminals at six U.S. ports, a U.S. trade official said” (link).

It is needless to say that both reports come from an original Reuters story which resembles the latter more than the former (link). Either way, this is probably the first fallout from the Dubai Ports deal—after all, it was that political charge which created the need for a period to “cool off.” It may turn that the Dubai ports deal will help push the deal forward if only because Capitol Hill will be wary about rejecting a second economics deal with the UAE in such a short period. On the other hand, FTA have been an essential element in America’s Middle East diplomacy—one which, by the way, is helping contain the power of Saudi Arabia. It would be a pity if such a narrow minded definition of the national interests (i.e. not having Arabs running US ports) would undermine other diplomatic initiatives which are far more conducive to the national interest.

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