GCC, Asean sign trade pact
Manama, July 1, 2009
The GCC and Association of Southeast Asian nations (Asean) have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at setting up a trade bloc between the Gulf states and Southeast Asian countries.
The agreement was signed yesterday (June 30) at Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Hotel and Spa following the first GCC-Asean ministerial meeting held in Bahrain.
The setting up of a Free Trade Agreement will be studied as part of the agreement. The two sides also agreed to look into further co-operation in energy, food, security and transportation.
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said the agreement would help limit the impact of the global financial crisis and provide a vital gateway to improve ties between the regions.
His Majesty King Hamad yesterday hailed the first meeting between the GCC and the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) as historic.
"We hope the occasion would lay the foundation for a strong partnership," His Majesty said.
He was speaking as he received at Gudaibiya Palace GCC and Asean Group foreign ministers who concluded their first meeting in Manama.
"History, geography and the critical global economic situation facing the world oblige us to build strong relations based on mutual respect," said King Hamad.
He described such an alliance between both regional entities as crucial to have more clout in confronting regional and international challenges.
His Majesty praised the GCC-Asean consensus in Manama to launch an inter-cultural dialogue.
Such an agreement, he said, would pave the way for continuous partnership based on peaceful co-existence, mutual respect, trade and economic co-operation.
"The aim is to achieve prosperity for our peoples and establish peace, security and stability in our respective regions and the world," the King said.
He also hailed the GCC-Asean meeting results and approved work plan. – TradeArabia News Service