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Bahraini soldiers wait for the arrival of delegates for the annual GCC summit, in Manama. Mohammed Al Shaikh / AFP
Bahraini soldiers wait for the arrival of delegates for the annual GCC summit, in Manama. Mohammed Al Shaikh / AFP

Steps towards union for GCC

The GCC wrapped-up its two-day summit in Manama yesterday with a statement that restated the bloc's commitment to monetary union.

The GCC wrapped-up its two-day summit in Manama yesterday with a statement that restated the bloc's commitment to monetary union.

The Sakhir Declaration read out by the GCC secretary general Abullatif Rashid Al Zayani said the GCC nations were "highly appreciative" of steps taken to implement the timetable for achieving the common Arabian Gulf market, "especially in the areas of movement and residence for GCC nationals, the practice of trades and professions, movement of capital, tax measures ... employment in government and private sectors, and social insurance and retirement".

The GCC's collective GDP last year was around US$1.37 trillion (Dh5.03tn).

The statement highlighted the GCC's commitment to implementing "integration in all areas, in particular ... the establishment of the Gulf common market and working to remove impediments to the application of the Customs Union".

Some analysts had predicted that this year's summit would announce steps towards the formation of a monetary bloc modelled after the euro zone. In May, GCC officials meeting in Saudi Arabia had established a special committee to examine the logistics of union and prepare a report on their findings.

Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Bahrain's foreign minister, said recently that the committee's report was still under review and that the union would not be unveiled at the Manama meeting.

"We have not yet finished our work," he said at a conference on regional security, also in Manama this month. "We walk carefully, and we want to make sure that everybody understands what is ahead of us, and everybody agrees."

The announcement of a union would be made at a "special summit in Riyadh in the near future", he added.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa hosted the meeting, which was also attended by Kuwait's emir, Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

 

business@thenational.ae

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