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EC And GCC Hope For Rapid Progress Towards Free Trade Agreement

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

11 May 2007


It emerged this week that European Union and the Gulf States are pushing for a rapid conclusion of the free trade agreement negotiations taking place between the two regions.

The 17th Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting of the EU and GCC took place in Riyadh on Tuesday. This annual gathering has its origins in the 1988 Cooperation Agreement concluded between the EU and the GCC.

Numerous foreign affairs ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council and EU Member States attended the meeting. The EU delegation was headed by German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the EU Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson.

Emerging from the talks, Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier expressed his optimism, observing that:

“My impression is that we have entered the final straight.”

He explained that it was a goal of the German Council Presidency to bring negotiations to a conclusion so that the agreement could be signed.

Negotiations on the free trade agreement, which sets out to expand economic relations between the Gulf region and the European Union, have been ongoing for almost 17 years.


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