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GCC endorses economic union

posted on 01/01/2002: 795 views

The GCC leaders concluded their 22nd summit in Muscat with the endorsement of the long-awaited economic agreement, which replaces the unified economic agreement signed by the six GCC countries in 1981.

The endorsement of the new economic agreement will pave the way for the formation of a strong and unified economic bloc in the Gulf region.

The final communiqué issued by the GCC leaders at the end of the two-day meetings stated that the council had reviewed actions being taken regarding the establishment of the GCC customs union.

The summit decided to reduce the unified customs tariffs on goods imported from outside the GCC to be 5 per cent by January 1, 2003 instead of 2005 as per the previous agreement.

The summit stated that goods that been exempted from customs tariff in accordance with the decisions of the 20th summit held in 1999 would not be subjected to any kind of customs by all members.

The council also approved the unified system and law of the GCC customs and endorsed its executive regulations.

Another major landmark decision was taken by the summit was regarding the establishment of the GCC monetary union. The communiqué said that the steps taken to achieve monetary union should be crowned by the release a single GCC currency in January 2010, eight years after the introduction of euro which is taking place today.

The GCC also decided to set up a supreme joint defence council. It expressed satisfaction at measures taken by member states to boost joint defence and military cooperation,' the communique said.

This will boost GCC's combined forces fourfold to 20,000 men. The Supreme Defence Council will oversee the implementation of a joint defence pact agreed upon in Bahrain last year that commits GCC nations to defend any member state against external threats.

Members of the council also will include chiefs of staff and technical military experts, the delegates said.

The summit highlighted the Yemen's role in the Arab peninsula, the GCC decided to grant Sanaa membership in the councils of GCC ministers of health and labour and social affairs.

The summit decided to allow Yemen to take part in the GCC football championship. The communiqué said that those steps would be followed later with the incorporation of Yemen in other joint GCC activities including economic cooperation.

The move, the communiqué said, aimed at enhancing development and social prosperity and strengthen bonds among people living in the Arabian Peninsula.

The summit welcomed the positive developments taking place in Afghanistan and the formation of Hamid Karzai government and expressed the readiness of the GCC governments to cooperate with the new government for the best of the people of Afghanistan.

The meeting condemned the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament that took place in December 13, 2001 and reiterated its stance to fight terrorism within the framework of international legitimacy as being identified by the Security Council.

The summit expressed its concern over the escalation of tension between India and Pakistan and called both countries to exercise greatest self-control over the current crisis between the two nations.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Council appointed Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al Attiya as the new secretary general for the organisation.

Qatari minister and career-diplomat Attiya will take over on April 1 from Saudi Arabia's Jamil Al Hujailan, who has served two terms as secretary general of the organisation. (The Gulf News)


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