China View, Xinhua Online
GCC chief expects free trade talks with China to end soon
18 December 2005
ABU DHABI, Dec. 18 (Xinhuanet) — Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdul Rahman al-Attiya said here on Sunday that he hoped talks between the GCC and China on a free trade agreement will be concluded soon.
"I hope the talks (between the two sides) will be concluded soon," Attiya told Xinhua ahead of a GCC annual year-end summitdue to kick off here later in the day.
The GCC chief said the ongoing free trade negotiations are smooth, expressing the alliance’s satisfaction.
In addition, on the relations between GCC countries and China, Attiya lauded the ties as "excellent and friendly", adding that relations between the two sides have developed steadily with cooperation enhanced in all fields.
Founded in 1981, the GCC is a regional political and economic alliance grouping Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The GCC and China signed a framework agreement on economic,trade, investment and technological cooperation in Beijing in July 2004 and the two sides have been engaged in negotiations toward the establishment of a free trade zone (FTA).
GCC-China FTA will considerably reduce tariffs, simplify goodsflow and facilitate mutual investments. It will also lay a solid foundation for further bilateral cooperation.
China is one of the main trade partners of the GCC and two-way trade volume between the two sides hit 24 billion US dollars in 2004.