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UAE pushing for EU-Gulf free trade pact

posted on 06/02/2007: 2144 views

The UAE is pushing for the signing of the free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union and the Gulf countries soon, according to top officials. "During my last visit to Geneva I have met with the EU's trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, who will visit the GCC countries very soon to give a push to the talks, as both parties feel it needs to be signed sooner than later," Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Economy, told Gulf News.

In her meeting with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Lubna stressed the important role that can be played by Germany in pushing these negotiations forward, as her country currently presides the EU.

With more than 20 per cent growth in the bilateral trade, more than 500 German companies operating in the UAE, most of which are regional headquarters, and more than 4,500 registered German products present in the UAE market, Germany seems to be the right partner for further deepening the ties with the EU, said Lubna.

"We want this agreement as well, and the negotiations have been going on for years and years with many stumbling points," Merkel said. She is visiting the UAE heading a business delegation to attend the UAE-German Executive Economic Forum, accompanied by the federal minister of economics and technology, Michael Glos, for the purpose of further strengthening the bilateral economic ties between the two countries.

"I have discussed the FTA issue with the Saudi Crown Prince in Riyadh, as well with the GCC's secretary-general. However, what the GCC countries must appreciate is that the union is composed of 27 countries with diverse interests, which can mystify our GCC partners," she added, stressing the importance of mutual compromise.

"Working groups from the two sides will be going through the hurdles throughout February, as well as the talks with Peter Mendelson. However, we also have a lot of hopes that the WTO's Doha round negotiations are to continue this year, which is important for us as well as the UAE," Merkel explained, who advised the GCC countries to avoid the bureaucratic. (Gulf News)


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