Britain already enjoys strong economic links with the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprised of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. But ministers have now opened preliminary talks to agree on a free trade deal that could be worth billions.
Trade between the UK and the Gulf nations topped £30billion in 2020 with the deal being a priority for Britain’s world trade agenda, Express.co.uk understands.
The deal is expected to cut tariffs on key imports and exports including cars and crude petroleum.
Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani, Bahrain’s minister of industry, commerce and tourism, said: “It brings me great joy and pleasure to officially announce the official launch of FTA negotiations between GCC countries and UK.”
Mr Al-Zayani said the deal was an “initiative that we have worked tirelessly on realising since the kingdom of Bahrain’s assumption of the GCC presidency at the beginning of this year”.
He added: “We shall collectively embark on a new chapter, which will solidify our long-standing trade and investment cooperation and build upon the strong foundations forged over the past centuries.”
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “A trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council is a huge opportunity to liberalise trade with a growing market for British business and deepen ties with a region that is vital to our strategic interests.
“We want a modern, comprehensive agreement that breaks down trade barriers to a huge food and drink market and in areas like digital trade and renewable energy which will deliver well-paid jobs in all parts of the United Kingdom.”
UK Government ministers have launched a “14-week consultation calling for the public and business to share their views ahead of full negotiations starting in 2022”.
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It comes as global business leaders and industry heavyweights will join the Prime Minister at the UK’s Global Investment Summit on October 19.
Speakers at the Summit include Said Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University, Sarah Gilbert, and GlaxoSmithKline CEO Dame Emma Walmsley, who will discuss the UK’s leading role in life sciences including the successful vaccine roll-out.
The Prime Minister also aims to use the summit to push his plan to level up the country with more economic benefits for all corners of the UK.
Attracting greener and more sustainable investment will also be on the agenda, with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, NatWest Group plc CEO Alison Rose, Metro Mayors and Macquarie Group CEO Shemara Wikramanayake taking part in discussions about the opportunities for greener investment up and down the country.
The Summit will also bring together investors from priority markets all around the world, with around 87 percent of attendees hailing from outside the UK.
This includes 32 percent from the US and 11 percent from countries belonging to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement (CPTPP).
Ms Trevelyan, added: “We welcome our latest sponsor Accenture, and our speakers who represent the innovation, agility and forward-thinking that sets the UK business community apart, making us the best place to start and grow a business.
“These titans of enterprise showcase how the UK is using investment to cement itself as a science and tech superpower, and a pioneer of green technology ahead of COP26.”
Minister for Investment, Gerry Grimstone said: “Our Global Investment Summit will put UK innovation on the map and demonstrate how we can use investment to nurture technological developments and propel our economy towards a more prosperous, exciting future.”
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