albawaba | 20 November 2022
GCC nudges EU on free trade agreement talks
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is ready to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) whenever the latter is ready.
At the 18th IISS Manama Dialogue’s fourth plenary session, GCC secretary-general Nayef Al Hajraf asserted this in response to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s statement during her opening keynote address that negotiations were stalled and the EU might pursue individual agreements instead.
“We are ready when you are ready,” Hajraf said during the session focused on discussing Middle East initiatives for regional conflict resolution.
“The GCC EU FTA has been stalled for almost 30 years – a situation that does not reflect the strategic relationship between the GCC and the EU, which we are very keen to enhance to serve our mutual interest,” he added.
Hajraf noted that while he understood the delays in the EU mechanism, he also stressed that the GCC cannot be blamed for not being the active partner when the council has been interacting with multiple trading blocs around the globe.
He went on to call for collective effort from all countries in tackling the ‘greatest economic challenge’, pointing to the uncertain global economic outlook.
The GCC is comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The council’s main headquarters is located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Charter establishing the GCC was signed on May 25th, 1981.