Pakistan, Gulf Cooperation Council Ink Preliminary Trade agreement
Pakistan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have inked a preliminary free trade agreement (FTA), according to Pakistan's commerce ministry, which describes it as a "milestone in both sides' economic cooperation." The preliminary FTA was signed at the General Secretariat offices in Riyadh by the GCC Secretary General, Jassem Mohamed Albudaiwi, and Dr. Gohar Ejaz, Pakistan's Minister of Commerce.
Last year, both sides held technical-level talks to examine the possibility of signing a free trade agreement that could help Pakistan boost its exports to the six-country bloc, which includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait. In March this year, a delegation of senior Pakistani diplomats met top GCC officials in Riyadh to discuss the agreement’s modalities. Last week, the foreign minister of Pakistan also met the GCC Secretary General and called for the “early conclusion” of the FTA, as per arabnews.
“This is a significant development as the FTA is the first by GCC with any country since 2009 and marks a milestone in both sides' economic cooperation,” the Pakistan commerce ministry said in a statement.
The GCC also released a statement, saying the “historic” agreement represented “an important turning point in cooperation and would contribute to growth and prosperity in a way that serves the common interests of both sides.”
“GCC countries are moving forward with the file of free trade negotiations with other countries, aiming to open and enhance the prospects for trade and economic cooperation for the Council member states regionally and internationally.”
Before the final agreement is signed and goes into force, the preliminary agreement will be followed by an internal administrative and approval process.