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GCC-China agreement on services to take time

Gulf News, Abu Dhabi

GCC-China agreement on services to take time

By Stanley Carvalho, Staff Reporter

7 August 2006

Abu Dhabi: China is optimistic of concluding the first part of a free trade agreement (FTA) with the six-nation GCC block by the end of this year, but the second part may take more time, officials said yesterday.

"The FTA related to commodities between China and the GCC as a group will most likely be signed by the end of this year but the FTA related to services may not happen so soon," the Economic & Commercial Counsellor at the Embassy of China told Gulf News.

"We are hopeful of signing the FTA with China before end of 2006," a senior official from the UAE Ministry of Economy & Planning said without elaborating.

Meanwhile, the Chinese official said China’s bilateral trade with the GCC has jumped to $21.103 billion in the first six months of 2006, registering a 34 per cent growth over the corresponding period last year.

Bilateral trade between UAE and China grew 28.5 per cent during first six months this year to touch $6.69 billion.

Two-way trade between Saudi Arabia and China reached $9.57 billion during the first half of 2006.

"We estimate trade to grow to $15 billion by end 2006 compared to $10.7 billion last year," he said.

Also, there are about 1,000 Chinese companies in the UAE.

Nearly 6,000 businessmen from the UAE visited the Canton Fair with a turnover of $60 last year and gained businesses worth $1.35 billion.