EFTA and GCC Finalise Free Trade Negotiations

Published 24-04-2008
On 24 April 2008 the EFTA Member States and the Member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – successfully finalised their negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Launched in February 2006 in Riyadh, the negotiations were concluded in Geneva on 24 April 2008 after five full rounds. The agreed texts cover a broad range of areas including trade in goods, trade in services, government procurement, competition and intellectual property rights. Bilateral arrangements on agricultural products between the individual EFTA States and the GCC are also part of the package. To supervise the functioning of the FTA, a Joint Committee will be established.

Following a joint legal review of the negotiated texts, both sides will submit the outcome to Ministers in view of the signing of the Free Trade Agreement. Today and in addition to their agreements with the European Union, the EFTA States have 16 concluded FTAs with partners worldwide.

In 2007, total merchandise trade between EFTA and GCC amounted to over 5.4 billion USD. Exports from the EFTA States, worth 4.4 billion USD, consisted mainly of clocks and watches, precious stones, pharmaceuticals and various machinery. The EFTA States’ top import products from GCC States in 2006 included precious stones and aircrafts/spacecrafts.