HM the King's Advisor for Diplomatic Affairs cum board of trustees of the Bahrain Centre for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (DERASAT)'s Chairman Dr. Mohammed Abdul-Ghaffar has commended the long strides of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-member countries on the road of economic integration since the Gulf Cooperation Council had been launched in 1981.
This came at the beginning of Gulf Economic Integration Forum themed: "Challenges vs. Solutions" organised by the Bahrain Centre for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (DERASAT) in collaboration with the Gulf Research Centre on Monday with participation of Gulf officials, chambers representatives, academicians and researchers for discussion of means to accomplish economic integration between member countries.
Dr. Abdul-Ghaffar said: "The Gulf integration reflects in the overall inter-trade exchange which grew by 768% in twenty years between 1993-2012 reaching now more than $ 90 billion." "There are promising plans topped by the monetary union, the railway networks, including the construction of the HM King Hamad's Causeway which will boost the accomplishment of integration links projects between the six countries," he added.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Industry and Commerce Minister Dr. Tawfiq bin Fozan Al-Rabi'a in his speech at the forum said that "GCC economies have proven their capability to surmount the regional and international crises, and maintained an advanced international position by ranking amongst the top 12 world economies. GCC economies grew to $ 1.65 billion last year (2013) and are expected to grew to 1.7 billion by the end of this year (2014) at an anticipated 4.2% rate. Dr. Al-Rabi'a added that the member countries ranked fifth worldwide in terms of their share in the total volume of international trade at 1.4 billion in 2012. The assets of GCC sovereign reached 2.3 billion, acquired 35.4% of the total assets of all sovereign funds around the world.
The Saudi Minister added that the GCC Customs Union has accomplished numerous advantages. Before it was signed, the average volume of yearly trade exchange between GCC-member countries was approximately $ 12.5 billion. A few years after its was signed, the volume has reached more than 58 billion per year. This remarkable increase in the volume of inter-GCC trade exchange stimulates us to achieve more as the volume of inter-GCC trade constitute 6.2% of the overall volume of trade of GCC countries compared with 63.6% between the EU countries.
The forum's first session discussed requirements for expansion of the economic base in GCC countries, diversification of revenue sources.
The second session discussed the future of energy in the GCC countries and the challenges facing Gulf oil and energy security issues.
The third session focused on Gulf joint ventures. This session discussed the role of the private sector, educational institution in curbing unemployment and the capability of Gulf economic legislation to deal with global economic blocs.
Saudi Chambers board chairman Dr. Abdulrahman Abdullah Al-Zamil, the Omani Economic Society's chairman Sheikh Mohammed Al-Harethi, the Sharjah Chamber's assistant general director for economic and international affairs Dr. Khalid Mohammed Al-Sulaiman, the former deputy chairman of the King Abdullah Atomic and Renewable Energy City Dr. Habibullah Turkistani, Economics Professor at the King Abdulaziz University Dr. Omar Al-Obaidli, the Director of International and Geopolitical Studies Programme at the "DERASAT" Centre Dr. Haitham Lingawi, Political Science Professor Dr. Saleh bin Jum'a Al-Ghilani from the Omani Economics Society and Professor Ammar Al-Ghazali from the Omani Economics Society participated in the forum.