Kuwait News Agency | 16/01/2014
GCC, China to sign ’’14-17 action plan, resume FTA negotiations - Amb. Al-Muzayen
By Bader Al-Sharhan
BEIJING, Jan 16 (KUNA) — Senior officials from the GCC countries and China met in Beijing on Thursday and discussed the 2014-17 plan of action, expected to be signed tomorrow, and resumption of negotiations to establish a free trade zone, a senior diplomat said.
Ambassador Nasser Haji Al-Muzayen, Director of the GCC Department at Kuwaits Foreign Ministry, was speaking to KUNA following the senior officials’ meeting, describing the strategic dialogue as "important." The senior officials prepared the draft agenda and final statement of the Third Strategic Dialogue, which would be held at a ministerial level tomorrow.
The GCC side will be chaired by Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, the rotating president of the GCC. The Chinese side will be chaired by the country’s Foreign Minister.
During tomorrow’s meeting, said Al-Muzayen, the two sides would sign the action plan for the years 2014-17 which would include many areas of cooperation.
The two sides, he added, would discuss "the comprehensive strategic dialogue in the political, economic, cultural, scientific, agricultural and medical fields." He said among other issues to be discussed would be the resumption of negotiations to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which would pave way for the establishment of a free trade zone.
"We believe the GCC countries are highly interested in reaching an FTA that is suitable for the GCC needs," said Al-Muzayen.
The two sides, Al-Muzayen went on, were keen on exploring further ways to cement energy, economic and investment cooperation, as well as increasing the trade exchange, which registered USD 160 billion in 2013.
"The economic, trade and investment relations with China are promising," he noted.
On Kuwaits role as the GCC rotating president, Al-Muzayen said Kuwait was coordinating among the six GCC countries vis-a-vis meetings with other countries and economic organizations.
"There are many countries and big economic blocs that wish to have strategic dialogue with the GCC, which reflected the importance of the GCC countries," said Al-Muzayen.
For his part, Kuwait’s Ambassador to China Mohammad Al-Thuwaikh said the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries were keen on boosting their relations with giant economic and political blocs, and countries which included China.
"China is an important country and seeks to play a leading role in global economy in the future," he said.
Al-Thuwaikh said the resumption of FTA negotiations and ultimately establishing a free trade zone was a "positive development" in relations between the two sides.
Kuwait, he added, has been playing a big role over the past two years at the regional and international levels, and the country, through its presidency of the GCC, sought to have positive results out of the dialogue.
Speaking about bilateral relations between Kuwait and China, Ambassador Al-Thuwaikh said the ties would witness a new leap especially in the economic and trade spheres.
He called for exploring cooperation in new domains like environment, desertification and renewable energy.
He said trade exchange between Kuwait and China registered USD 12 billion in 2013, and the two countries sought to increase it to over USD 15 billion over the next two years.
The two countries are cooperating in investment and this was seen in the establishment of a new refinery in southern China "and we hope the private sector in Kuwait would explore investment opportunities in China, and we have to encourage the Chinese to invest in Kuwait," said Al-Thuwaikh.