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Trade Policy Staff Committee; Initiation of Environmental Review of Bahrain Free Trade Negotiations; Public Comments on Scope of Environmental Review

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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Office of the United States Trade Representative.


Notice and request for comments.


This publication gives notice that, pursuant to the Trade Act of 2002, and consistent with Executive Order 13141 (64 FR 63169) (Nov. 18, 1999) and its implementing guidelines (65 FR 79442), the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), through the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), is initiating an environmental review of the proposed United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement. The TPSC is requesting written comments from the public on what should be included in the scope of the environmental review, including the potential environmental effects that might flow from the free trade agreement and the potential implications for U.S. environmental laws and regulations, and identification of complementarities between trade and environmental objectives such as the promotion of sustainable development. The TPSC also welcomes public views on appropriate methodologies and sources of data for conducting the review. Persons submitting written comments should provide as much detail as possible on the degree to which the subject matter they propose for inclusion in the review may raise significant environmental issues in the context of the negotiation.


Public comments should be received no later than December 1, 2003.


Submissions by electronic mail:

Submissions by facsimile: Gloria Blue, Executive Secretary, Trade Policy Staff Committee, at (202) 395-6143.

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For procedural questions concerning public comments, contact Gloria Blue, Executive Secretary, TPSC, Office of the USTR, 1724 F Street, NW., Washington, DC 20508, telephone (202) 395-3475. Questions concerning the environmental review should be addressed to David J. Brooks, Environment and Natural Resources Section, USTR, telephone (202) 395-7320.

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1. Background Information

On August 4, 2003, in accordance with section 2104(a)(1) of the Trade Act of 2002, the United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick, notified Congress of the President's intent to enter into trade negotiations with Bahrain. Ambassador Zoellick outlined specific U.S. objectives for these negotiations in the notification letters to Congress. Copies of the letters are available at​new/​fta/​Bahrain/​2003-08-04-notification-house.pdf,​new/​fta/​Bahrain/​2003-08-04-notification-senate.pdf.

The TPSC has invited the public to provide written comments and/or oral testimony at a public hearing on November 5, 2003 in order to assist USTR in amplifying and clarifying negotiating objectives for the proposed FTA and to provide advice on how specific goods and services and other matters should be treated under the proposed agreement (68 FR 51062) (August 25, 2003).

An FTA with Bahrain will promote the President's initiative to advance economic reforms in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, moving us closer to the creation of a Middle East Free Trade Area. A U.S.-Bahrain FTA will build on the FTAs that we already have with Israel and Jordan, as well as the FTA that we are currently negotiating with Morocco. A comprehensive FTA will also provide an opportunity to work with Bahrain to encourage other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to adopt high trade and investment standards.

In 2002, the United States exported $419.2 million worth of aircraft, machinery, vehicles, pharmaceutical products, toys, games, sports equipment, and other goods to Bahrain. An FTA with Bahrain is expected to benefit American manufacturers—as well as U.S. exports of meats and high-value processed agricultural products—by enhancing access to Bahrain's market and promoting Bahrain's role as a regional business hub for the Gulf. An FTA is also expected to provide new export opportunities for U.S. services firms in sectors such as telecommunications, finance, distribution, energy, construction, engineering, health care, legal services, accountancy, tourism and travel, and environmental services. An FTA will also support Bahrain's commitment to transparency, openness, and the rule of law, thereby enhancing respect for intellectual property, labor rights, and environmental protection.

2. Environmental Review

USTR, through the TPSC, will perform an environmental review of the agreement pursuant to the Trade Act of 2002 and consistent with Executive Order 13141 (64 FR 63169) and its implementing guidelines (65 FR 79442).

Environmental reviews are used to identify potentially significant, reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts (both positive and negative), and information from the review can help facilitate consideration of appropriate responses where impacts are identified. Reviews address potential environmental impacts of the proposed agreement and potential implications for environmental laws and regulations. The focus of the review is on impacts in the United States, although global and transboundary impacts may be considered, where appropriate and prudent. Start Printed Page 56374

3. Requirements for Submissions

In order to facilitate prompt processing of submissions, USTR strongly urges and prefers electronic (e-mail) submissions in response to this notice.

Persons making submissions by e-mail should use the following subject line: “United States—Bahrain FTA Environmental Review” followed by “Written Comments.” Documents should be submitted as either WordPerfect, MSWord, or text (.TXT) files. Supporting documentation submitted as spreadsheets are acceptable as Quattro Pro or Excel. For any document containing business confidential information submitted electronically, the file name of the business confidential version should begin with the characters “BC-”, and the file name of the public version should begin with the characters “P-”. The “P-” or “BC-” should be followed by the name of the submitter. Persons who make submissions by e-mail should not provide separate cover letters; information that might appear in a cover letter should be included in the submission itself. To the extent possible, any attachments to the submission should be included in the same file as the submission itself, and not as separate files.

Written comments submitted in response to this request will be placed in a file open to public inspection pursuant to 15 CFR 2003.5, except business confidential information exempt from public inspection in accordance with 15 CFR 2003.6. Business confidential information submitted in accordance with 15 CFR 2003.6 must be clearly marked “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” at the top of each page, including any cover letter or cover page, and must be accompanied by a nonconfidential summary of the confidential information. All public documents and nonconfidential summaries shall be available for public inspection in the USTR Reading Room. The USTR Reading Room is open to the public, by appointment only, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. An appointment to review the file must be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance and may be made by calling (202) 395-6186.

USTR also welcomes and will take into account the public comments on Bahrain FTA environmental issues submitted in response to a previous notice—the Federal Register notice dated August 25, 2003 (68 FR 51062)—requesting comments from the public to assist USTR in formulating positions and proposals with respect to all aspects of the negotiations, including environmental issues. These comments will also be made available for public inspection.

General information concerning the Office of the United States Trade Representative may be obtained by accessing its Internet Web site

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Carmen Suro-Bredie,

Chair, Trade Policy Staff Committee.

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[FR Doc. 03-24633 Filed 9-29-03; 8:45 am]