Sunday April 12nd, 2009
GCC Mulls Reopening Free Trade Talks With EU
RIYADH (AFP) — The Gulf Cooperation Council chief and Saudi and Omani ministers on Sunday discussed how to revive talks on a free trade accord with the European Union that broke down in December, the official SPA news agency reported.
Oman’s minister for foreign affairs Yussef bin Alawi bin Abdullah met Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim bin Abdul Aziz al-Assaf and GCC Secretary General Abdurrahman al-Attiyah, it said.
Their talks focused on "the progress of negotiations between the GCC and the European Union and the obstacles impeding the negotiations," SPA said.
The six-nation GCC suspended talks over the free-trade agreement in December when the two sides became bogged down over two key issues.
The EU objected to allowing GCC countries, notably Saudi Arabia, to maintain selective export duties. Meanwhile the GCC opposed the EU insistence that the agreement contain a clause committing them to the protection of human rights.
According to SPA Sunday’s Riyadh meeting sought to find ways to overcome these differences.
Diplomatic sources told AFP that the energy-rich GCC - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - has expressed an interest in resuming the trade pact talks.