Tax-News.com, Brussels | Wednesday, June 03, 2009
GCC To Sign EFTA Trade Deal
by Ulrika Lomas
GCC Secretary-General Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al Attiyah has announced that the Gulf Cooperation Council will sign a joint free trade agreement with the EFTA states, Switzerland Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein later this month. Both parties agreed the text of the agreement on April 24, 2008 and have now signalled they wish the agreement to enter into force.
Launched in February 2006 in Riyadh, the negotiations were concluded in Geneva in April 2008 after five full rounds. The agreed texts cover a broad range of areas including trade in goods, trade in services, government procurement, competition and intellectual property rights. Bilateral arrangements on agricultural products between the individual EFTA States and the GCC are also part of the package. To supervise the functioning of the FTA, a Joint Committee will be established.
Speaking on June 1, Attiyah noted that following the collapse of an agreement with the European Union the GCC has decided to push ahead with agreements with other European non-EU countries. The free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association will be signed by Attiyah in Oslo, Norway on June 22.
In 2007, total merchandise trade between EFTA and GCC amounted to over USD5.4bn. Exports from the EFTA States, worth USD4.4bn, consisted mainly of clocks and watches, precious stones, pharmaceuticals and machinery. The EFTA States’ top import products from GCC States in 2006 included precious stones and aircraft/spacecraft.
The Gulf Cooperation Council is formed of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.