Sunday, 23 January, 2022

Free trade deal to help UK remain among GCC’s major trade partners

Free trade deal to help UK remain among GCC’s major trade partners

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DUBAI: A free trade agreement between the GCC and UK will boost bilateral trade and consolidate Britain’s position as the bloc’s third-largest export market globally in the post-Brexit era, the UK trade commissioner for the Middle East and consul general in Dubai said.

“The FTA will help us grow that number further, but it will also help us protect that number … it would help us protect our market share. One thing you would have seen over the last decade or so is the competitive landscape [for trade],” Simon Penney told The National in an interview, report agencies.

“It’s about protecting market share, and then growing market share. So it really is important for us that if we don’t have a free trade agreement in place … the competitive landscape is such that … many other countries may get our market share.”

Bilateral trade between the GCC and the UK was worth more than £30 billion ($40.88bn) in 2020 alone, while British exports amounted to £22bn, according to figures provided by the government. China and the EU are the first and second biggest trade partners of the GCC, accounting for 15.8 per cent and 12.3 per cent, respectively, of the GCC’s total trade in goods in 2020, according to the European Commission.

Officials from the GCC and UK agreed to work rapidly towards a comprehensive FTA in December last year as both parties seek to cement their trading relationship and capitalise on synergies following Britain’s exit from the EU.

Following a day-long meeting with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss at her 17th-century grace-and-favour mansion, Chevening House in Kent, foreign ministers from the GCC and Ms Truss said the “re-energised UK-GCC partnership” would generate significant business opportunities.