UAE-Australia free trade pact likely this year

Gulf News, UAE, 02/21/2006

UAE-Australia free trade pact likely this year

By Saifur Rahman, Staff Reporter

Dubai: A free trade agreement between the UAE and Australia is likely to be concluded by the middle of this year, said a top Australian official.

The UAE is also likely to conclude another free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, while the GCC is expected to sign its own FTA with the European Union in May.

"Both countries held the last round of talks in Australia in December and the next round is expected to be held in the UAE next month," Peter Linford, Australian Consul General and Senior Trade Commissioner, told Gulf News.

"If everything works out well, we hope to conclude the FTA by the middle of the current year. The move will help our bilateral trade to expand."

The UAE and Australia began negotiations on the FTA a year ago. Australia could become the UAE’s third free trade partner following the United States and Singapore.

He said, there are some pending issues to be sorted out between the two countries that he said would be resolved.

"One of the UAE’s concerns is taxation in Australia and easing the visa process for UAE nationals and businessmen," he said.

"We still are not able to issue a same-day visa like others. However, from the Australian side, the concern is the variation in business regulations in different emirates. Streamlining these will help Australian and other foreign businessman to conduct business."

With the FTA in place, the volume of trade will accelerate further. He said vehicles are one of the largest export items to the GCC.

Linford also attributed the growth to Emirates’ aggressive push in the Australian market.

Australia, which is participating in Gulfood, offers a clean, green and healthy environment for growing and producing world class food.

This, coupled with the multicultural make-up of the Australian society, brings an exciting and innovative melting pot of concepts and ideas for design and development, Linford said.

source: Gulf News