The trade policies development conference concluded on Friday, 29 June 2018 at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. The conference focused on the latest developments in the European Union and the second GCC trade and investment dialogue between the Gulf Cooperation Council and the European Union.
The conference was attended by experts and specialists from the GCC countries, the GCC Secretariat general, the Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting (GOIC), the GCC Standardization Organization and the GCC Statistical Center. On the other hand, experts and specialists from the European commission and the European External Action service also took part in this conference. The private sector was also present at the conference, represented by the Federation of Gulf Cooperation Council Chambers and the confederation of European business.
Dr. Abdulaziz Hamad Al-Owaisheq, the Assistant Secretary General of the GCC for political affairs and negotiations, said on the sidelines of the meeting that the GCC aims at improving the trade balance between the GCC countries and the EU, knowing that the European Union enjoys a notable trade surplus with the Gulf Cooperation Council. At the same time, the GCC aims to increase European investments in the region. He also added that this dialogue is the continuation of the 1st dialogue on trade and investment which was held in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia in 2017 with the participation of the Gulf private sector. Many mechanisms were introduced during this dialogue aiming at stepping up trade and investment cooperation between Gulf States and the EU.
Furthermore, Al-Owaisheq said "Today's meeting comes in line with what was agreed upon at the conference on Trade and Economic Relations between the European Union and the Cooperation Council, organized by the European Parliament and the Cooperation Council in October 2017 in Brussels.” The Assistant Secretary General added “the General Secretariat of the GCC is keen to strengthen technical cooperation with the European Commission and other European Union institutions, as part of the joint cooperation agreement that was concluded between the two sides in June 1988.” He also pointed out that the Council is determined to promote trade and investment with the European Union, address trade imbalance, increase European investments in the region, and promote the access of Gulf exports to European markets.
Al-Owaisheq added that the EU is the GCC countries’ first trade partner, as trade exchange between the two parties amounted to $180 billion in 2017. The European Union also enjoys a significant trade surplus.
Mr. Abdul Aziz Al-Ageel, Secretary-General of the Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting (GOIC), said that the meeting shed light on trade and investment issues, the future of trade cooperation between the two sides, as well as organizational aspects and trade laws. It was also focused on the latest developments in electronic commerce, data protection, standards and metrology. The meeting also discussed ways to improve cooperation between the two sides in agricultural areas, and the possibility of holding workshops on intellectual property protection for patent drugs and medical devices.
Mr. Al-Ageel expressed his appreciation to the European Commission for organizing this conference as one of the results of the joint European-European cooperation process.
He also added that the relation between GCC countries and the EU has witnessed rapid developments over the last decades which led to expend cooperation in many areas, notably economic opportunities.
The meeting shed light on the investment policy in the European Union and the GCC countries as well as investment priorities, creation of investment opportunities, the promotion of trade cooperation and exchange between the two sides in light of the economic diversification in the GCC countries. Many presentations were also delivered on regional trade policies and new free trade negotiations in the EU.