Gulf Daily News, Bahrain
FTA talks to top GCC-EU agenda
By ABDULRAHMAN FAKHRI
5 April 2005
PROGRESS in the Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations will top the agenda of the annual GCC-EU foreign ministers meeting being held today in Bahrain, which currently chairs the GCC.
Regional issues of joint interest such as developments in Iraq, EU negotiations with Iran, prospects for Middle East peace and Saudi Arabia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation will also be reviewed at the one-day event.
The GCC delegation attending the meeting, at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa, will be headed by Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa.
Also present will be GCC Secretary-General Abdulrahman Al Attiyah, Gulf ministers and other officials.
The EU’s delegation will be headed by Jean Affelborn, Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, which is currently presiding the EU.
It also comprises Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Commissioner for Trade Peter Mandelson.
In a report released by the Bahrain News Agency yesterday, speeding up the signing of the FTA agreement will top the agenda.
It said both the GCC and the EU expect to sign the agreement during this year.
"Once the FTA is signed, there will be a number of benefits for the GCC by implementing the provisions of the agreements," it said.
The agreement would be instrumental in increasing economic co-operation and creating new job opportunities.
In 1989, the EC and the GCC signed a co-operation agreement under which the foreign ministers meet once a year at a joint ministerial meeting.
The objective of this agreement is to develop trade relations, as well as to contribute to strengthening stability in this strategic part of the world.