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GCC to seek further talks before EU free-trade deal

Gulf Times | Tuesday, 8 May, 2007

GCC to seek further talks before EU free-trade deal

DUBAI: The GCC states want further talks with the European Union before agreeing to a landmark trade deal with the economic block, an official said yesterday.

“GCC-EU free-trade agreement won’t be ready to be signed during the ministerial meeting this week in Riyadh,” Hamad al-Bazai, Saudi deputy minister of finance, said.

The Gulf states are not ready to conclude their long-standing negotiations, said al-Bazai, who will attend the Riyadh round of talks.

“Ministers will review the progress of negotiations and I expect them to assure their political support,” he said.

Europe and the GCC have tried to finalise for the last 17 years a free-trade agreement that would boost commerce between both regions.

The wording of the agreement remains undecided along with issues concerning service industries and investment rules, al-Bazai said.

The two sides have already agreed on rules of origin for 10 industries, including petrochemicals and plastic exports to the European market, he said. - Dow Jones Newswires

 source: Gulf Times