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GCC Common Market takes off

Nearly three decades after the idea was first mooted, the six Gulf countries enter the new year after finally establishing a common market with a combined economy of $715 billion.

 

The new regional economic grouping should ensure "economic equality" for Gulf Cooperation Council citizens, GCC Secretary General H E Abdulraham Al Attiyah said at a summit of GCC leaders in early December.

 

He described the launch as "historic" 26 years after the common market was announced as an objective when the GCC was formed in 1981.

 

The initiative "will increase investments and common trade between members," GCC economic chief Mohammad Al Mazroui told AFP, adding that it will also "strengthen the position of member states in free-trade talks," mainly with the European Union.

 

Some 35.1 million people live in the GCC, although citizens of the member states represent around only 60 percent of the total population, with the remainder foreign expatriates working there.

 

In addition to allowing the free flow of capital, the common market should give GCC nationals freedom of movement, residency and employment, in both the private and public sectors, in any of the six countries, Attiyah said.

 

"The common market will allow the citizens of GCC member states to benefit from opportunities offered by the Gulf economy and will open important areas to common and foreign investments," he added.

 

The GCC bloc groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which together account for a total surface area of 2.6m square kilometres (1.04m square miles).

 

Sitting on 484 billion barrels of oil, they also represent more than half of the oil reserves of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The six have had a customs union agreement since January 2003.

 

Formation of a customs union was a condition set by the European Union, the GCC's main trading partner, for a free trade agreement between the two blocs, an accord which has been under discussion for nearly 20 years.

 

Trade between GCC member states currently represents just around 10 percent of overall foreign trade. But this should increase to 25 percent in the next two years, said Issam Fakhrou, president of Bahrain's chamber of commerce and industry, in a statement yesterday.

 

According to statistics on the organisation's website, GCC foreign trade was $282.8 billion in 2005, a figure which predates the sharp surge in oil prices which boosted revenues for the six.

 

The GCC also aims to achieve monetary union by 2010, although this deadline appears increasingly unattainable as some members have rampant inflation and the US dollar, to which most GCC currencies are pegged, continues to fall in value.

 

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Events of January 2018
  Event Organizer From To
1 The Fourth Doha Islamic Finance Conference Bait Al Mashura & Qatar Financial Center 2018 / 01 / 09 2018 / 01 / 09
2 The 2th Q-PEM Hamad Medical Corporation 2018 / 01 / 12 2018 / 01 / 14
3 Expo Turkey by Qatar MC Fair Organization 2018 / 01 / 17 2018 / 01 / 19
4 International Customs Day General Authority of Customs 2018 / 01 / 25 2018 / 01 / 25
5 Heidelberg Conference in Doha Hamad Medical Corporation 2018 / 01 / 26 2018 / 01 / 27