GCC-EU delegations discuss free trade
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is to hold a meeting in Riyadh this week with European Union (EU) delegates in order to move forward with plans for establishing a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two entities, reported KUNA.
According to GCC Secretary General Abdelrahman Bin Hamad Al-Atiyya, the new round of talks will last two days and will include extensive discussions on technical aspects of the future FTA.
In December 2001, heads of state from the six-member GCC signed a customs and monetary union agreement, opening the way for the long-awaited FTA with the EU, the region's biggest trading partner. The accord advances the date for implementing a unified five percent customs tariff to January 2003, after a previous agreement had set the start date to 2005.
The new deal replaced an economic agreement, signed in 1981 with the founding of the GCC. The regional bloc—including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the fifth-ranking trade partner to the 15-number EU. — (menareport.com)
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