EU resumes talks with Gulf states on free trade pact

ABU DHABI — The European Union and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council began a new round of talks in Abu Dhabi yesterday on a long-stalled free trade deal.

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 26 Oct 2005, 10:42 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 5:42 PM

“We have been working intensely on the free trade agreement and our aim is to be as productive as possible and make progress,” said Holger Standertsujold, head of the EU delegation. “We have a timetable and a full agenda.”

The two-day meeting includes deputy ministers and trade and economy officials from the six-nation GCC.

Abdallah Al Saleh, a senior official at the UAE’s economy ministry, predicted on Monday that the talks “will achieve big progress... on most issues that had been under negotiation in the past years.”

The GCC and the EU signed a framework economic cooperation agreement in 1988 but have so far failed to agree a free trade deal. However, in April the two sides held talks in Bahrain after which officials said they expected the deal to be concluded by the end of the year.

The GCC states met one of the EU requirements when they launched a customs union in January 2003, but implementation has hit serious snags.

The GCC states and EU have also had differences over sensitive political issues such as human rights.

“The commission... is now looking at possibilities for promoting domestic reforms through an enhanced cooperation, including on areas such as education or human rights,” said a statement about the GCC talks on the commission’s web site.

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