European Union and Gulf Cooperation Council Talks

18 May 2009

Reports from Brussels suggest that the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)) are to resume talks about a free-trade agreement. Initial talks were suspended in December after the EU insisted on the insertion of a “human rights clause” and some Gulf Countries including Saudi Arabia wanting to retain customs duties on certain items.

A free trade agreement has been planned for over a decade now. Negotiations were re-launched in 2002 with a wider mandate that includes trade in services and investments.

The negotiations will cover:

• Market access for goods and services
• Common rules and disciplines for intellectual property rights
• Competition
• Dispute Settlement
• Rules of Origin
• Human Rights
• Illegal Immigration and,
• Terrorism

EU Trade with the GCC

EU Trade with the six countries in the GCC has been increasing since the 1980’s. In 2007, the EU exported 61.5 billion Euro’s worth of goods to the GCC (mainly focussed on machinery and transport materials) whilst importing 30.7 billion Euro’s worth of goods from the GCC (mainly fuels and derivatives (70% of total EU imports from the region in 2006).

The GCC is currently the EU’s fifth largest export market and the EU is the top trading partner for the GCC.

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