Algeria is a strong supporter of, and an important partner in, the Global War on Terrorism. Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, counter-terrorism and law enforcement cooperation have intensified between Algeria and the United States. Algeria has publicly condemned the terrorist attacks on the United States, and is seeking greater ties to the U.S. via military assistance in the form of training and hardware.
In July 2001, President Bouteflika became the first Algerian President to visit the White House since 1985. This visit, followed by a second meeting in November 2001, a meeting in New York in September 2003, and President Bouteflika's participation at the June 2004 G8 Sea Island Summit, was indicative of the growing relationship between the United States and Algeria. Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, contacts in key areas of mutual concern, including law enforcement and counterterrorism cooperation, have intensified. Algeria publicly condemned the terrorist attacks on the United States and has been strongly supportive of international counterterrorism efforts.
The United States and Algeria consult closely on key international and regional issues. The pace and scope of senior-level visits has accelerated. In April 2006, then-Foreign Minister Bedjaoui met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Secretary Rice visited Algiers in September 2008. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci, along with the Moroccan and Tunisian Foreign Ministers, on the margin of the March 2009 donor conference in Sharm-el-Sheik, Egypt. In December 2009, Algerian Foreign Minister Medelci met with Secretary Clinton in Washington, DC. In April 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder visited Algiers to sign a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Algerian Justice Minister Tayeb Belaiz.
In 2007, U.S. direct investment in Algeria totaled $5.45 billion, mostly in the hydrocarbon sector. American companies also are active in the banking and finance, services, pharmaceuticals, medical facilities, telecommunications, aviation, seawater desalination, energy production, and information technology sectors. Algeria is the United States' second to third-largest trading partner in the Middle East/North African region. U.S. exports to Algeria totaled $1.2 billion in 2008, and U.S. imports from Algeria reached $19.3 billion in 2008, primarily in the form of crude oil. In March 2004, President George W. Bush designated Algeria a beneficiary country for duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). In July 2001, the United States and Algeria signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which established common principles on which the economic relationship is founded and forms a platform for negotiating other bilateral agreements.
Within the framework of the U.S.-North African Economic Partnership (USNAEP), the United States provided about $1.0 million in technical assistance to Algeria in 2003. This program supported and encouraged Algeria's economic reform program and included support for World Trade Organization accession negotiations, debt management, and improving the investment climate. In 2003, USNAEP programs were rolled over into Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) activities, which provide funding for political and economic development programs in Algeria. The U.S. Government continues to encourage Algeria to make necessary changes to accede to the World Trade Organization, move toward transparent economic policies, and liberalize its investment climate. The U.S. also funds a program supporting Algerian efforts to develop a functioning, transparent banking and income tax system. The U.S. Department of Commerce established a Commercial Attaché in Algiers in 2008.
Cooperation between the Algerian and U.S. militaries continues to grow. Exchanges between both sides are frequent, and Algeria has hosted senior U.S. military officials. In May 2005, the United States and Algeria conducted their first formal joint military dialogue in Washington, DC; the second joint military dialogue took place in Algiers in November 2006, and a third occurred in October 2008. The NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander, U.S. European Command, General James L. Jones visited Algeria in June and August 2005, and then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Algeria in February 2006. In November 2009, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander General W. Ward visited Algiers and met with Algerian officials, including President Bouteflika. The United States and Algeria have also conducted bilateral naval and Special Forces exercises, and Algeria has hosted U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ship visits. In addition, the United States has a modest International Military Education and Training (IMET) Program ($870,000 in FY 2009 and $950,000 in FY 2010) for training Algerian military personnel in the United States, and Algeria participates in the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP).
The United States has implemented modest university linkages programs and has placed two English Language Fellows, the first since 1993, with the Ministry of Education to assist in the development of English as a Second Language courses at the Ben Aknoun Training Center. In 2006, Algeria was again the recipient of a grant under the Ambassadors' Fund for Cultural Preservation. That fund provided a grant of $106,110 to restore the El Pacha Mosque in Oran. Algeria also received an $80,000 grant to fund micro-scholarships to design and implement an American English-language program for Algerian high school students in four major cities. In 2009, the U.S. Government began a pilot program in Constantine, Algeria at Mentouri University. The program is designed to ease the transition between the university and the workforce, fight unemployment, and train Algerian university professors and students in English and business management to better equip graduates to secure meaningful employment.
In November 2009, Algeria and the United States reciprocally extended visa duration to two years for most visa categories, including tourists, businesspeople, and students. Also in November 2009, the countries finalized language for both a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement. Attorney General Eric Holder signed the MLAT with Algeria during an April 2010 visit. Law enforcement cooperation continues to increase, both in the field of counterterrorism and in countering more conventional transnational crimes. The FBI established a Legal Attaché Office at the U.S. Embassy in Algiers in 2008.
Funding through the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) has been allocated to support the work of Algeria's developing civil society through programming that provides training to journalists, businesspeople, female entrepreneurs, legislators, Internet regulators, and the heads of leading nongovernmental organizations. Additional funding through the State Department's Human Rights and Democracy Fund provides training for Algerian judges and lawyers, with a particular emphasis on female judges.
The official U.S. presence in Algeria is expanding following over a decade of limited staffing, reflecting the general improvement in the security environment. During the past four years, the U.S. Embassy has moved toward more normal operations and now provides most embassy services to the American and Algerian communities.
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