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US Offered Accord to Egypt, Saudis

May 25, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A U.S. offer for free trade agreements that was accepted by Israel was turned down by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Undersecretary of Commerce Lionel Olmer says.

Completion of the first round of talks on free trade between Israel and the United States was reported in early 1983, and agreement was concluded earlier this year.

″But I would point out that at the same time that the opportunity was offered to the government of Israel, we offered it as well to the government of Egypt and the government of Saudi Arabia,″ Olmer said Friday in an interview. ″It was the latter two that at that time chose to not pick up the offer.″ He did not elaborate.

Olmer said former U.S. Trade Representative William E. Brock, now secretary of labor, had talked with some governments in southeast Asia about either a free trade area or individual arrangements with the United States, but that there has been no further work done.

Free trade areas, in which the members favor one another and discriminate against outsiders, have been developed by the 10-nation European Community in western Europe.

Some American trade experts say that if the United States is excluded from such arrangements, it should make its own.

″So I would look for 1986 as a time when the United States may well begin to look to Asia for such opportunities as negotiations in the field of technology and service and of others things as well. And for all you know they could lead to the existence of free trade areas,″ Olmer said.

He avoided saying whether Taiwan or any specific country could be included.

Olmer noted that the United States has had trouble getting ″a few in the industrial world″ to set a date for the opening of a new round of trade talks taking in as much of the globe as possible. He did not name France, which has been the main obstacle.

Olmer is leaving the administration June 15 to go into law practice after 41/2 years of government service.

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