Bloomberg | 27 January 2022
UK, Gulf may sign post-Brexit trade deal this year, Bahrain says
Manus Cranny, Yousef Gamal El-Din, and Matthew Martin
A trade deal between the U.K. and a six country bloc of Gulf oil producers including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could be concluded before the end of this year.
Negotiations between with the Gulf Cooperation Council and the U.K. have begun and “we’re hopeful we could get something done by the end of this year or the middle of next year,” said Zayed Al Zayani, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism for Bahrain.
The GCC, as the bloc which also includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar is known, is aiming for a comprehensive deal that could help boost trade with the U.K., Al Zayani said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
The U.K. kicked off the process in October, with the Gulf becoming its latest post-Brexit trade target as it seeks to deepen economic ties beyond the European Union. British trade with the GCC was worth about 45 billion pounds ($61 billion) in 2019, 7% of the size of Britain’s commerce with the EU in the same year. The EU and the GCC don’t have a free trade agreement in place, despite having been in talks for over 15 years.
Bahrain is also aiming to boost the contribution of tourism to Bahrain’s economy to 11.4% of economic output by 2026, up from about 7%, while boosting visitor numbers to 14.1 million a year, Al Zayani said.