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Public Statements

United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act

Location: Washington, DC



Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his leadership on all the free trade agreements and his leadership on so many difficult issues.

I rise in strong support of the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement. This FTA represents an important step toward a more prosperous and economically vibrant Middle East. The broad scope of this agreement and its consideration for environment and labor standards, as well as provisions that address other foreign policy concerns, makes the U.S.-Bahrain agreement an important model for future FTAs.

This agreement encompasses more than just economics. It also reflects a broader commitment to an ally that hosts the fifth fleet of the U.S. Navy and has assisted us here in the United States in our pursuit of al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist organizations.

Additionally, it highlights and rewards Bahrain's reform efforts thus far, as illustrated by the elections held in 2002 in which women fully participated and by Bahrain's consistent rating by the Heritage Foundation as the freest economy in the Middle East.

Bahrain's recent decision to pull out of the Arab League boycott of Israel also represents the government's rejection of intolerance and anti-Semitism and its commitment to fully integrate into the world economy.

To affirm this commitment and establish a positive precedent for the future of FTAs with countries in the region, rejection of the Arab League boycott of Israel is incorporated as a provision of the U.S.-Bahrain FTA. While significant strides have been made by Bahrain, I hope this agreement serves as a catalyst for further reforms, because they are needed to address the remaining concerns over its human rights records, starting with the reopening of the Bahrain Center For Human Rights.

Mr. Speaker, according to the 9/11 Commission report, economic reforms will be vital in transforming the Middle East into a region which rejects despotism and terrorism and, instead, embraces freedom and democracy. This FTA strikes at the heart of that.



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