Gulf states keen on taking their relationship further
Gulf states are keen on economic integration, Bahrain’s Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro said yesterday.
"There is readiness at the executive level for economic and trade integration within the GCC," Dr Fakhro said as he chaired GCC regional meetings of the industrial co-operation committee, the commercial co-operation committee and the board of the standardisation organisation.
"This started from a unified economic agreement, leading to customs union and eventually the Gulf common market," Dr Fakhro was quoted as saying in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
It is hoped the monetary union and subsequently the GCC union would materialise soon, the minister said.
The meetings were held at the GCC general secretariat in Riyadh in the presence of GCC Industry and Commerce ministers.
Bahrain has the presidency of the general secretariat for the current session.
In speeches delivered at the event, Dr Fakhro said enhanced GCC joint action was needed for unifying legal system of industrial organisation as well as classification of activities and statistics.
He said discussions have included trade negotiations for the upcoming ninth ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation scheduled for the first week of December in Indonesia.
Dr Fakhro said that GCC became a realistic model for regional economic integration, which made a big jump in the volume of intra-regional trade of GCC from $32 billion in 2005 to $100 billion last year.
Trade volume increased tenfold from $138 billion in 1984 to about $1.9 trillion last year, with the GCC achieving the world's largest trade surplus of $432 billion last year.
Dr Fakhro highlighted the importance of developing economic and trade co-operation with major economic powers such as China, India, Japan, Brazil and Asian countries, which represent a driving force for growth and international investments, as well as growing trade and investment relations with the GCC.
The recent consultations with the European Union indicate the possibility of reaching a free trade agreement.
The minister called for the need to finalise free trade agreements with key partners with a focus on food security.
Hoping that the GCC standardisation organisation would work together to overcome all obstacles that stand in the way of the movement of goods amongst the Gulf states, Dr Fakhro said application of unified Gulf standard specifications would help in that regard.
The minister also called for the need to redouble efforts to accommodate global legislation related to liberalisation of trade and adoption of international standards.