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Oman and Port Security

Members of Congress are raising concerns about several provisions in the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA) that could jeopardize national security. The most significant, buried in an Annex of the OFTA, is an outrageous provision that undermines our ability to protect the security of U.S. ports.  

OFTA grants firms incorporated in the country of Oman a “right of establishment” to acquire and operate landside port activities and other service sector businesses within the United States (OFTA Art.11-4). This rule does not simply require that foreign firms and U.S. firms be treated equally once they are established (OFTA Art. 11-2), it goes further to grant foreign firms a specific right to establish the operation in the United States in the first place.

Furthermore, the expansive U.S. obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) do not require that we allow foreign firms to operate ports here. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) had to add explicit language into OFTA to require that we do so. There has been no response from the USTR that offers an explanation of why providing foreign ownership rights over U.S. ports is necessary or good policy.

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