Finance Ministers from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states recently concluded that custom tariffs on imported goods in the region will only be charged at the products’ final destination once a custom federation is in place in 2003, reported KUNA. The system will undergo a three-year trial period.
The ministers also approved a timetable for the issue of a single Gulf currency and discussed the possibility of reaching a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union at their next meeting scheduled for July.
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 EU refuses to sign an FTA accord with the GCC, until it has established a customs union.
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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