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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 3, 1996


Free Trade Area Extended To West Bank And Gaza Strip

President Clinton signed legislation last night that will expand duty free treatment of products imported from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and help to spur economic development throughout the region.

This new trade initiative reflects the continuing commitment of the United States to help open new economic opportunities for the Palestinian people -- a vital element of the Declaration of Principles signed at the White House in September 1993. It also provides tangible U.S. support for the Peace Process and promotes greater economic cooperation among Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.

The proposal grants products of the West Bank and Gaza Strip special trade status, identical to those accorded products of Israel under the Israel-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Such a special trade status will provide new employment opportunities for Palestinians outside Israel proper and lure increased foreign investment to the West Bank and Gaza.

The Palestinians have agreed to grant duty free access on U.S. imports to the West Bank and Gaza Strip and national treatment within the territories, to assist the United States in verifying compliance with U.S. trade laws, and to prevent unlawful transshipment of products not qualifying for duty-free access. In addition, the Palestinians will support all efforts to end the Arab League Boycott of Israel in all its respects.

The President would like to thank Chairman William Roth (R-DE) of the Senate Finance Committee, Ranking Member Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Hank Brown (R-CO), Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee William Archer (R-TX), Ranking Member Sam Gibbons (D-FL), Phillip Crane (R-IL), Chairman of the Trade Subcommittee, Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Trade Subcommittee, and Representative Clay Shaw (R-FL), for their efforts to enact the legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support.

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