UK Could Finalise Gulf Trade Deal This Year, Says Deputy PM Dowden

May 16, 2024 | blog

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has expressed optimism {that a} free commerce settlement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) might be finalised this 12 months.

Speaking at a enterprise convention in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Dowden highlighted the UK authorities’s prioritisation of this take care of the six-member GCC, which incorporates Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.

Dowden emphasised the numerous commerce relationship, noting, “People forget the GCC is actually the fourth-largest trading partner for the UK.” When requested concerning the chance of concluding the deal by year-end, he mentioned, “I’m hopeful of course. But as ever, just as the GCC need to get the best deal, we need to get the best deal.”

The UK has signed three free commerce agreements since leaving the European Union. Securing a take care of the energy-rich GCC could be a well timed success for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s authorities, particularly with a basic election on the horizon. This comes after latest setbacks, together with stalled negotiations with Canada and India.

According to Deloitte, demand for imported items and providers within the Gulf international locations is anticipated to extend by 35% to £800 billion by 2045. An settlement would place UK companies to profit considerably, as providers represent greater than half of UK exports to the GCC. Currently, UK companies pay a mean of 5.5% in tariffs on exports to the Gulf. The UK authorities estimates {that a} commerce deal might increase annual wages by £600 million and improve GDP by about £1.6 billion by 2035.

Negotiations, which started in 2022, have been complicated, given the necessity to safe a regional settlement with six various and infrequently competing international locations. These nations impose numerous obstacles on overseas funding and lack a shared regulatory system. Additionally, the UK has skilled tensions with the UAE, a key regional ally and monetary hub, over geopolitical points. However, sources acquainted with the negotiations have indicated that these disputes should not anticipated to hinder the progress of the free commerce settlement.

At house, the UK authorities faces scrutiny over increasing commerce with Gulf international locations, a number of of which have been accused of suppressing dissent. While Saudi Arabia has made strides in direction of social and financial reforms, British officers have privately raised issues about its crackdown on dissidents.

During the commerce delegation in Riyadh, Dowden and Lord Johnson of Lainston, the Minister of State for Business and Trade, praised Saudi Arabia’s enterprise potential. Dowden highlighted the £17 billion in bilateral commerce with Saudi Arabia and expressed hopes of accelerating this to £30 billion as the dominion pursues formidable tasks to diversify its economic system away from oil dependence. “I think there’s huge opportunities here,” Dowden added.

With each side exhibiting a robust dedication to finalising the settlement, a profitable take care of the GCC might present a major increase to the UK’s financial prospects.

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