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The Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, with Yemen hoping to join by 2016) is dealing head-on with bilateral free trade agreements at various levels. On the one hand, it has gone through a lot of tension as its member countries have been drawn into individual bilateral treaties with foreign powers like the United States, including with a major row between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain when Bahrain signed with Washington. On the other hand, it has been working as a group to establish FTAs with others, including Australia, China, Mercosur, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Turkey, New Zealand, India, Iran, ASEAN and the European Union. It signed an FTA with Syria in 2005, and more recently with Singapore (2008) and EFTA (2009).

last update: May 2012
photo: US Department of State/Wikimedia Commons

Pakistan pushing for more free trade with GCC
Pakistan is trying hard to sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Gulf countries to give boost to its ailing economy, said a senior official.
Australia seeks free trade deal with GCC
Australian Minister for Trade Simon Crean, who is currently visiting Saudi Arabia, has reaffirmed the need to initiate talks for a free trade agreement between the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Australia.
Japan-GCC: Free trade deal on the way
The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) is on the verge of signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Japan, it was revealed yesterday.
Gulf states set to start FTA talks with Iran
Gulf states have decided to accept an offer from Tehran to begin talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) that will add Iran to the list of many countries negotiating with the region for such a deal
GCC, EFTA to sign FTA by year-end
A free trade agreement between the GCC and the European Free Trade Association could be signed by the end of 2008, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.
GCC: Free trade agreements mark a major shift in trade policy
FTAs mark a major shift in the policy of GCC countries’ foreign trade. They have just signed one with EFTA, concluded talks with Singapore earlier this year and made strides in signing similar deals with China, India, Pakistan, Japan, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand. Further FTA talks are expected to begin soon with Iran and South Korea, while the EU hesitates.
Gulf lacks coordination on key issues in free trade talks
GCC countries need to have a strong coordinated stance in the free trade talks with the European Union, top Arab officials demanded on Sunday. "The Europeans get the lion’s share out of any deal they break in the GCC, while we incur the losses and burdens," said Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, the Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Industry.
Yemen to join GCC, Gulf-EU Free Trade Agreement to be signed
Yemen will soon become a regular member of the GCC, following the GCC leaders’ agreement to a request by Saudi King Abdallah. In addition, a GCC-EU free trade agreement is expected to be signed during 2008.
GCC, Seoul set to start FTA talks
As part of an ambitious plan to widen economic cooperation, the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and South Korea are all set to start negotiations after Ramadan to implement a free trade agreement
Middle East: Bridging the Shia-Sunni divide with free trade
While Iran and the United States exchange aggressive statements, the Arab countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been busy building trade relations with Tehran and charting an economic course with a potential of mending ties in a tough neighbourhood.