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EU-GCC free trade talks today

The Peninsula, Qatar

News in Brief:
EU-GCC free trade talks today


Source ::: Agencies

DUBAI: The European Union and the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council will meet this week to discuss a long-stalled free trade deal, officials said yesterday. The new round of talks starting in Abu Dhabi today “will achieve big progress... on most issues that had been under negotiation in the past years,” Abdallah Al Saleh, a senior official at the United Arab Emirates economy ministry told the official Wam news agency. He said the two-day meeting would involve deputy ministers from the GCC states. The GCC and the EU signed a framework economic cooperation agreement in 1988 but have so far failed to agree a free trade deal. However, in April they held talks in Bahrain after which officials said they expected the deal to be concluded by the end of the year. The GCC states met one of the EU requirements when they launched a customs union in January 2003, but implementation has hit serious snags. In principle, the GCC plans a common market in 2007 and a monetary union and single currency by the start of 2010. The GCC is critical of high taxes levied by the EU on its refined oil products and aluminium, as well as its own massive trade deficit with Europe, which is estimated at about $17bn.

 source: The Peninsula