E-platform step forward towards GCC unified market

THE GCC has launched an electronic system to enable its businessmen and investors to voice grievances and share suggestions to help improve trade.

This is a step forward in the GCC’s quest for a common market, Finance and National Economy Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said yesterday.

He was addressing a Press conference along with Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Alzayani, at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, as Bahrain hosted the two-day 114th GCC Financial and Economic Co-operation Committee meeting, which ends today.

The Finance Minister chaired the meeting. He also presided over a joint meeting with GCC Commerce Ministers.

Shaikh Salman also chaired a joint meeting between the Financial and Economic Committee and Trade Co-operation Committee, in the presence of the head of negotiating team Abdulrahman Al Harbi.

Mr Alzayani said Gulf states are seeking a bigger share of international trade, from the current five per cent to 30pc by 2028.

A new free trade agreement between the GCC states as a unit and other countries was expected by the end of this year or in the first quarter of next year, he said.

“We first seek to ease trade procedures between GCC member states as we operate together as a unified market,” said Mr Alzayani.

“The Gulf states, individually or jointly, has a 5pc share of international trade and we want this to reach between 30pc of the world GDP and 33pc by 2028.

“Currently, as a unit we stand at the 10th to 12th rank within top economies and our target is to be amongst the top 10.

“A joint GCC negotiating team for free trade agreements has been formed and it is working to revive stalled agreements and enter into a new one with a deal expected by the end of the year or the first quarter of next year.”

Mr Alzayani said work to benefit mutually from existing individual deals is on the table.

“Products could be partially manufactured in Bahrain, completed in Saudi Arabia and exported from there in line with an agreement they may have with other countries.

“Current individual deals could be used for joint benefit.

“The GCC already has joint free trade agreements with Singapore and European countries, but we want more, and the current plan is to explore seven markets.”

He added that a Qatari delegation was present at the committee meeting, adding that all agreements were reached through consensus.

“We approve things as six and enter deals as six.

“Plans for new GCC tourist partnerships are also on the horizon and we are working to finalise details.”

The Finance and National Economy Minister said the plan was to achieve a unified GCC market.

“We have to cross all hurdles in trade between us as we work towards a unified GCC market.

“Economic recovery from the pandemic requires a balanced approach and we are monitoring prices within local and international markets.

A draft action plan is set to be drawn up by officials during the final day of the event today.


Source: https://www.gdnonline.com/Details/992709/E-platform-step-forward-towards-GCC-unified-market


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