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Australia to consider free trade talks

June 21, 2006

Australia to Consider Free Trade Talks

Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - Australia will consider negotiating a free trade agreement with several Middle Eastern countries, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile said Wednesday.

Vaile said the Gulf Cooperation Council — which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — wanted to begin trade talks with Australia.

Australia has been in talks with the United Arab Emirates about a possible free trade deal, and Vaile said he would consider rolling those negotiations into a wider deal including the council.

"The GCC is an important and growing market for Australia with exports of goods worth 4.1 billion Australian dollars (US$3 billion; euro2.4 billion) in 2005," Vaile said.

"We will look closely at using the good progress we made in the U.A.E. negotiations to advance our export interests through a possible GCC wide agreement," Vaile said.

 source: AP