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GCC-EU trade deal on way

Gulf Daily News, Bahrain

GCC-EU trade deal on way

7 October 2008

MANAMA: A free trade agreement bonding the GCC and EU may be sealed next year.

"Bilateral talks are progressing steadily," said Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Dr Essam Fakhro.

He revealed that key issues under discussion are services and investments.

He was speaking as he received a European Chambers of Commerce and Industry delegation to discuss boosting co-operation.

A string of scheduled GCC-EU commercial events also came under the spotlight. These include the two-day GCC-EU exhibition, due to open on November 12 in London.

Paris will also host the first GCC-French Economic Forum on October 28 and 29.

A BCCI delegation will take part in both events as part of efforts to cement co-operation and boost the volume of investments.

"The GCC and the EU countries have been engaged in FTA negotiations over the last 15 years," he said.

However, talks stumbled all these years over issues relating to armament, immigration, labour and human rights.

The GCC represents the fifth largest market for EU exports totalling 55 billion euros. The GCC exports to the EU soared to 375bn euros, with oil representing a major bulk of 70 per cent.

The GCC has also invested up to $100bn in the euro zone between 2002 and 2006, out of an overall $542bn abroad.

The EU direct investments in the GCC topped $13bn in 2006, less than 1pc of the overall EU investment flows abroad.