GCC, UK determined to further economic ties
LONDON-- The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the UK expressed their determination here Wednesday to further their all-round economic and trade links between them and to explore the partnership between their public and private sectors (PPP).
This came in the conference held at the UK historic venue, Lancaster House, in central London.
The gathering is the first major economic meeting following the first GCC-UK Summit that took place in Manama, Bahrain, in December 2016.
It aims at developing GCC-UK economic co-operation through private and public sector partnerships that will create a successful model in the context of achieving the national transformation plans of the GCC member states, exchanging expertise from the GCC and UK private sectors and creating jobs, the speakers underlined.
They stressed that this is a major opportunity that will pave the way to the upcoming trade and investment working group that is due to take place in July 2017 at the headquarters of the GCC Secretariat.
The meeting was co-organized by the Secretariat of the GCC and the UK International Trade Department.
Secretary of the Department of International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, General-Secretary of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), Dr Abdullatif Alzayani, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Zayed Alzayani, and the Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Sultanate of Oman, Dr Ali Masoud Alsunaidy, opened the first session of the conference.
It brought together ministers, senior representatives, GCC member states' ambassadors and private sector stakeholders of both sides, to explore the opportunities of Public Private Partnerships, with a view to achieving the GCC national transformation plans.
The Gulf region is the largest investor in the UK and second biggest export market.
The Kuwait delegation to the meeting was headed by Board member of the Kuwaiti Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abdullah Al-Humidi.
It also comprises the Chairman of the Board of Burqan Bank, Majid Al Ajeel, the Vice-Chairman and executive Board member of Boubian Bank, the General Manager of the Chamber of Trade and Industry, Rabah Al-Rabah, and the Director of the Department of Projects in the Organisation responsible for Partnership between the Public and Private Sectors in Kuwait, Lulah Yaseen Saif.
Also taking part were the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the UK and Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps here, Khaled Al-Duwaisan and the First Secretary, Nawaf Abu Shibah.
For his part, International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, said in his remarks: "The UK consistently shows how collaboration with the private sector can lead to innovation in public sector services." The minister indicated: "Todayآ’s conference is not only an opportunity for the GCC nations to capitalise on our extensive knowledge and experience in this area, but is also a springboard for our growing future trading relationship.
"The UK and Gulf states share a strong and growing trade and investment relationship, and the connections that are made today between government and business will help to shape a better future for all our nations." UK companies export over 30 billion pounds worth of goods and services to the GCC nations every year and thousands of British companies are active across the Gulf, creating jobs and helping to deliver projects from energy expansion to helping Qatar prepare to host the 2022 World Cup.
The Department for International Trade is also offering practical support to expand the UK-GCC relationship.
Through UK Export Finance, Britain can provide up to 30 billion pounds in support for UK companies exporting globally, and for their buyers in both the public and private sectors.
In addition, UK Export Finance support will now be available in all of the GCCآ’s currencies, allowing the regionآ’s buyers to access finance in their own currency and making the UKآ’s world-leading goods and services even more competitive, the minister added.
Meanwhile in his intervention, Dr Al Zayani voiced the hope that the UK will seize the opportunities available in the GCC to contribute in the various projects available there in the fields of infra-structure, energy, scientific research, telecommunications and defence in the public and private sectors.
He also underscored the importance of exchanging views on how to offer support to the development projects in the GCC States and the feasibility studies available in this regard.
Yesterday, a meeting was held at the British Foreign Office between the GCC Secretary-General, Ambassador Al-Duwaisan and some other members of the GCC delegation on the one hand, and the Head of the Mideast section in the Department on the other hand, Chris Turner, to discuss aspects of co-operation between the two sides in the fields of security, defence, the granting of entry visas and health facilities.
The meeting reflected the depth of the historic ties between the two sides and the determination to strengthen them in the future, the Kuwaiti Ambassador said.