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Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) PDF Print E-mail

In February 1997, the Arab League launched a free trade program, known as the Greater Arab Free Trade Area, or GAFTA, in which member states were asked to come up with specific commitments regarding elimination of tariffs, non-tariff measures and rules of origin. The so called Executive Program was an effort to revive the 1981 Agreement for Facilitation and Promotion of Trade among the members.

The program calls for tariff reductions over a ten year period at a rate of 10 percent per year, meaning that tariffs would be reduced to zero by 2007. In addition, the members agreed to bind their national tariff schedules as of December 31st, 1997. By September 1999, 14 countries had applied tariff reduction schemes and fulfilled the tariff commitments. For the rest of the members who did not ratify the agreement, the bound tariffs will be applied at the time they notify the Arab League of their endorsement of the program.

In the area of agriculture, the program offers members the opportunity to suspend tariff reductions on some produce during the peak harvest seasons. Each GAFTA country is allowed to submit ten produce items for suspension, with a total exemption for all the items of 45 months. So far, 10 GAFTA countries have submitted a list of 30 fruits and vegetables



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