Gulf leaders pledge economic unity at GCC Summit
Arab leaders ended the 24th annual Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit yesterday in Kuwait City, agreeing to speed up economic unity among the six affluent states.
Summit delegates approved a pact to fight terror, increase economic development and praised US plans to transfer power to Iraqis by mid-2004. A communiqué released at the end of the summit stated that GCC members “support every international measure to fight terrorism and cut sources of its finances."
Leaders reviewed progress in the customs union, which came into effect this year. Under the fully realized unified economic agreement, all internal GCC trade will be duty-free, while external customs tariffs will collectively be lowered to five percent. The move is considered a major stepping-stone towards a 2005 realization of a regional monetary union and the forging of a single market with a new currency by 2010.
The council approved a unified dumping law and compensation for protective measures, which will come into effect next year. The need to speed up work on the GCC power grid was addressed as well as a plan to link all six states by a railway network. Plans for the creation of a joint GCC market by 2007 were also reviewed.
One issue that was not discussed was Iraq’s multi-billion dollar debt owed to the regional grouping. Leaders said they were waiting for US special envoy James Baker’s visit to the Gulf to discuss the matter.
Established in 1981, the GCC is a loose political and economic alliance between Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With a combined population of 30 million, the GCC member states sit atop half of the world's crude oil reserves and account for over 20 percent of international crude exports. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)