Gulf on track for 2015 customs union
Abu Dhabi, October 3, 2011
The Gulf states plan to set up a joint regional customs authority next year as they push ahead to launch a fully operational customs union by early 2015 as planned, the under-secretary of the UAE Finance Ministry said.
Younis Al-Khoury also said plans were underway to create a unified Gulf railway entity.
"We have recommended these proposals to our finance ministers who are meeting in Abu Dhabi on October 22," he told reporters after a meeting of regional Finance Ministry officials.
"The GCC customs union is on track for end-2014 or early 2015," he said, adding that the planned GCC Customs Authority was to be set up by around mid-2012.
The introduction of the customs union in 2003 had been hailed by officials as a major achievement countering criticism that the Gulf bloc would be unable to realise economic integration in the world's top oil exporting region.
But differences have delayed an agreement on how to introduce a permanent system to distribute customs receipts among the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Asked whether negotiations have slowed on a free trade agreement with the European Union, Khoury said: "They are progressing as planned earlier."
"We are aiming to work towards enhancing GCC economies in light of recent global events, which requires further integration between our countries to allow us a stronger negotiation position and a higher competitive capacity in international markets," he said. - Reuters