Customs Union Likely For Gulf States

The energy-wealthy Gulf states have agreed to resolve the hurdles that are obstructing the implementation of a customs union that has been long delayed. One hurdle has been revenue sharing, said the finance minister of Kuwait.

The leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) a six-nation organization set a date of January 1 to have the first customs union implemented. The idea was launched first back in 2003, but has been delayed several times due to disagreements amongst the member nations.

The Kuwait finance minister said that following a full day of meeting of the ministers of finance there was an agreement made on every point on the agenda, including a way for distributing the revenue from customs, which to date has always been the largest hurdle in the negotiations.

Studies will be done to make everything clearer on how the mechanism will work. The studies and any other related issues will then be reviewed by all six ministers in September at a meeting to be held in Kuwait City. Kuwait at this time holds the rotating presidency of the GCC.

The GCC member nations unified their customs tariff at 5% more than one decade ago. However, their attempts at a union have not moved along at a quick rate.

Abdul Latif Al Zayani the secretary general of the GCC urged the organization’s members to facilitate the free movement of the national and international goods so the deadline for January can be achieved.

These negotiations and call for unity by the secretary general come at a time when the GCC member states having a political dispute that might hurt projects dealing with economic integration.

However, the finance members insisted the disputes would not affect the current meeting.

In 2003, when the customs union was first launched, full implementation had hoped to be achieved in three years.

However, questions pertaining to revenues, protectionism and dumping have caused many delays.

A deadline in 2010 arrived and was not met when the bloc of energy-rich nations could not agree on the sharing of revenues from tariffs.

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