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GCC And Singapore Hold Free Trade Talks

by Mary Swire, Tax-News.com, Hong Kong

23 January 2007


The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) and the Republic of Singapore have completed the first round of negotiations on the Gulf Cooperation Council-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (GSFTA) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

According to the government of Singapore, the parties had "fruitful" discussions and made good progress in key areas such as trade in goods, trade in services, and investment.

Singapore says that GCCSFTA will be a "milestone" in its ties with the GCC countries, whose member states include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. As a key institutional framework that will strategically link the Gulf region and Singapore, the FTA will help to promote and facilitate the greater flow of goods, services and investment between the GCC and Singapore.

Both sides expect to hold the next round of negotiations in Singapore not later than May 2007, and will endeavour to conclude the negotiations expeditiously.

Singapore and the GCC announced their intention to kick start free trade talks during Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong’s official visit to Saudi Arabia in November 2006.

Economic relations between the GCC and Singapore have grown significantly in both scope and depth over the past few years. The GCC is currently Singapore’s 7th largest trading partner, with bilateral trade amounting to US$23.7 billion in 2005, a 43% increase over 2004. Likewise, Singapore is becoming an increasingly significant economic partner for many of the GCC countries.


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