Saudi Press Agency | 4.10.2011
Cabinet approves GCC-EFTA trade pact
RIYADH – The Council of Ministers Monday approved the Free Trade Agreement between GCC member states and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) signed in Hamar in Norway on June 26, 2009.
The Free Trade Agreement covers a broad range of areas including trade in goods, trade in services, investment, government procurement, rules of origin, intellectual property, and dispute settlement.
Additional agreements on agricultural products between each EFTA state – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – and the Gulf Cooperation Council form part of the instruments establishing the free-trade area.
In 2008, total merchandise trade between the EFTA states and the GCC amounted to $7.2 billion. Trade has grown consistently over recent years, recording an average annual growth rate of 25 percent between 2003 and 2008.
The GCC was EFTA’s sixth largest export destination in 2008, with total merchandise exports reaching $6.1 billion. Exports from the EFTA States consisted mainly of clocks and watches, precious stones, electrical machinery and pharmaceutical products, while the main products imported from the GCC into the EFTA states were precious stones, iron and steel products, clocks and watches, and organic chemicals.
The Council of Ministers, Chaired by King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, also approved the appointment of a representative from the Ministry of Higher Education in a committee formed by the Cabinet to set up a national committee for the care of prisoners, released prisoners and their families.
In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) following the meeting, Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja, Minister of Culture and Information, said the ministers reviewed a number of reports about the course of events and developments in a number of Arab countries, stressing that the Kingdom has reiterated its firm stands vis-à-vis these events, and also underlined the contents of the Kingdom’s speech in the 66th session of the UN General Assembly.
The Cabinet condemned the Israeli violations of legitimate Palestinian rights and its confiscation of more Palestinian land to build 1,100 settlement units in Gelo, east Jerusalem.