The U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, which came into force on January 1, 2009, builds on existing free trade agreements to promote economic reforms and openness. Implementation of the commitments contained in the comprehensive agreement will create export opportunities for U.S. suppliers of goods and services, strengthen trade and investment liberalization in Oman, and strengthen protection and respect for intellectual property rights. Most members of the Committee on Trade Policy and the Environment agreed that the environmental and public participation provisions were acceptable; They found, however, that the free trade agreement between the United States and Oman lacked certain environmental rules that appeared in other agreements that would have been appropriate. For example, the general framework for public participation under the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and some of the fundamental environmental provisions contained in the free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore25. The Committee stressed, however, that trade agreements must continue to respect the power of public and local authorities to regulate areas under their jurisdiction. They also stressed the need for an ongoing consultation with sub-federal government governments26.26 Advance notification was made on 17 October 2005, three days after the end of the negotiations. The agreement was then officially “finalized” or signed on January 19, 2006. U.S. financial service providers have the right to establish subsidiaries, branches and joint ventures in Oman, expand their operations throughout Oman and offer the full range of financial services. Appendix III of the agreement lists the exceptions to the coverage of the agreement that each county has reserved for itself in the area of financial services trade.
All U.S. trade agreements resulting from the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) have an exception to “essential security.” The United States (like Article 21 of the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement) has consistently interpreted the language as a self-assessment, so that national security issues are not appropriate for a decision under a third-party vendor dispute resolution mechanism.