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Framework for GCC-EU free trade pact discussed: GCC Secretary General

A framework for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has been discussed, according to GCC Secretary General Jassim al Budawi.


Speaking to the press following the GCC-EU Ministerial Council meeting held in Muscat recently, Al Budawi explained that the previous free trade agreement negotiations between the two unions came to a halt in 2008.


“The Free Trade Agreement with the European Union has been in a state of suspension for some time now. We have engaged in ongoing discussions with our European counterparts, covering various topics, including the potential revival of these negotiations. It has been over a decade since the suspension of the Free Trade Agreement, and in order to resume talks, a fresh agreement is necessary. During this period, significant economic and political changes, as well as new challenges, have emerged. Hence, restarting negotiations with the European party will require several steps.” Al Budawi also shared that the GCC is in the process of finalizing agreements with several countries at the moment. “We are delighted to announce that we recently took the initial steps towards a landmark trade agreement with Pakistan, marking the first of its kind in a long while,” he said.


“Furthermore, we are currently in the final stages of negotiations to establish several agreements with different countries in the near future. The Gulf Cooperation Council nations have, by the grace of God, achieved both regional and international economic recognition. This is an achievement that all Gulf residents can take pride in.” The ministerial meeting, which took place in Muscat last week, placed a strong emphasis on trade relations between the European Union and the GCC In a statement, the Co-Chairs of the EU and the GCC underlined the importance of further strengthening ongoing discussions on trade and investment, especially in areas that contribute to economic integration, modernization, renewable energy, digital trade, and the development of sustainable global supply chains.


The ministers of the EU and the GCC called for the improvement of the international trading system in collaboration with the World Trade Organization (WTO), and welcomed the discussion to establish the India-Middle East – Europe Economic Corridor.


Future dialogues will focus on regulatory cooperation, improving the implementation and effectiveness of provisions on sustainable development, and further strengthening cooperation on intellectual property rights protection, customs, and anti-fraud, counterfeiting, and smuggling measures.


According to data from the European Commission, trade volume between the GCC and the EU amounted to €97.1 billion in 2020, making the EU the second-largest trade partner for the GCC, accounting for 12.3 per cent of the GCC’s overall global trade that year.






Oman Daily Observer