Since the United States became a party to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, U.S. construct of the Foreign Trade Agreement has changed considerably. Such agreements now have a much more profound impact on state and local economies across the country.
Generally, treaties with foreign governments were a vehicle for regulating tariffs and quotas relative to the export and import of products, but within the parameters of U.S. law. However, since 1994, Foreign Trade Agreements have expanded to include non-tariff barrier issues and regulated under the purview of international law.
Unbeknownst to most of the public regarding the Dubai Ports World agreement with the U.S., approved by the Committee for Foreign Investments in the U.S. (CFIUS) in February 2006, enabling the country of Dubai to take over port operations of six major U.S. east coast ports, was that the U.S. had been in negotiations for a Foreign Trade Agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since March 2005. While members of both houses of the U.S. Congress feigned shock that there was such a deal in the works, that Foreign Trade Agreement in particular provided the backdrop to allow such takeover of U.S. strategic assets, regardless of national security risks.
Since Dubai verbally agreed in March 2006 to sell its rights in the U.S. port operations to a U.S. entity, which to date does not exist in writing, the Foreign Trade Agreement with the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is one of its seven emirates, has been put on hold. However, a similar deal with the country of Oman, also negotiated since March 2005, was approved by the U.S. Senate on June 28, 2006. The passage of the Oman Foreign Trade Agreement, still to be ratified by the entirety of the House of Representatives in July 2006, is considered to enable easier passage of several other U.S. Foreign Trade Agreements pending, which include Peru, Thailand, Vietnam, as well as the United Arab Emirates, among several others.
Unlike other federal legislation, however, the Foreign Trade Agreement is signed by the President prior to ratification, as President Bush did so on Jan. 19, 2006, with the Oman Foreign Trade Agreement.
Unlike most pending legislation, the Oman Foreign Trade Agreement is under the auspices of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The 2002 Trade Promotion Act allowed for