On June 6, 2000, President Bill Clinton and King 'Abdullah II announced that the United States and Jordan would commence negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). The two sides signed the FTA on October 24, 2000, and President Clinton submitted the FTA to the 107th Congress on January 6, 2001. Bills to implement the FTA were introduced in the Senate (S. 643) on March 28, 2001, and in the House (H.R. 1484) on April 4, 2001. In the past, Congress has shown an interest in developing free trade relations between the United States and select Middle East countries. In 1985, Congress approved the U.S.-Israel FTA and amended it in 1996 to include the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as qualifying industrial zones (QIZs) between Israel and Jordan, and Israel and Egypt. Since 1994, when Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty, Congress and the Clinton Administration also undertook several initiatives designed to assist the Jordanian economy. These initiatives included increased levels of foreign assistance, debt forgiveness, and the QIZ program. In addition to a modest increase in the bilateral trade of goods, a U.S.-Jordan FTA could have several economic and political implications. These include the possibility of increased levels of trade in services, greater foreign direct investment (FDI) to Jordan both from U.S. and foreign-based companies, and reinforced momentum for further economic reform in Jordan. If approved by Congress and the Jordanian parliament, the U.S.-Jordan FTA will also mark the first U.S. free trade agreement with an independent Arab country, thereby reflecting the strength of U.S.- Jordanian bilateral relations and the importance that the United States attaches to these relations.
CRS Report for Congress, RL30652