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EU-GCC technical negotiations bring final FTA agreement closer

19
Jan '07
Negotiators from the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have completed a constructive round of negotiations on the creation of a Free Trade Area between the two regional groups. The talks, which touched on all key areas in the negotiation - including movement of goods and services, investment and public procurement - bring both sides closer to a final deal.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said: "I welcome the constructive and positive atmosphere of this week's negotiations. I believe that we are now in a position to resolve final issues and complete an EU-GCC FTA deal in the near future".

Background:
In 1989 the EC and the GCC concluded a Cooperation Agreement containing a commitment from both sides to enter into negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EC and the GCC. The agreement also aims at facilitating trade relations, and strengthening stability in a strategic part of the world.

The Free Trade Agreement negotiations started in 1990 but faced a standstill pending the decision from the GCC in 1999 to move towards a Customs Union by March 2005. The EU adopted a new set of negotiating directives in July 2001, including services and other areas included in recent FTAs.

The negotiating directives stated as a condition for signature of such an agreement the constitution of a GCC Customs Union. The negotiations resumed in March 2002 and have been continuing until now.


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