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  HE GCCSG: Periodic Meeting between Ministers of Trade and Industry and Heads of Chambers of Commerce in GCC Countries Aims to Strengthen Public-private Sector Relationship for Economic Development

General Secretariat - Doha
His Excellency Mr Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said that the periodic consultative meeting between Their Excellencies the Ministers of Trade and Industry in the GCC countries and Their Excellencies the heads and members of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the GCC countries is a significant opportunity to exchange views and ideas, and to study ways to establish a consistent and integrated relationship between the public and private sectors in the GCC countries.

This came during His Excellency’s speech, in the consultative meeting, which was held on Wednesday (May 1, 2024), in the city of Doha, State of Qatar. The meeting was headed by His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim Al Thani, Minister of Commerce and Industry in the State of Qatar, chairman of the current session, in the presence of Their Excellencies the Ministers of Trade and Industry and the Heads of the Councils of Federations and Chambers in the GCC countries.

During his speech, HE the Secretary General expressed his aspiration for initiatives that support the growth of the private sector in the GCC countries. He hoped that the private sector will become a strong economic supporter of the economic stability and development in the region, as well as bolster their position internationally as a global financial, investment, and economic center. 

His Excellency explained that the goal of the meeting is to enhance joint cooperation, deepen consultation, and support development, progress, and prosperity, stating that this will help the economies of the GCC countries grow and address economic challenges at a local, regional, and international level, adding that the meeting also aims to increase trade exchange between the GCC countries, which exceeded USD 100 billion in 2022.

His Excellency also emphasised that the meeting aims to identify challenges and obstacles facing the GCC private sector, work on overcoming them, and find successful solutions, clarifying that the meeting will also present studies and creative initiatives that will benefit the Gulf private sector, ultimately leading to deepening economic integration in the GCC countries and increasing economic growth. 

Furthermore, HE the Secretary General stressed that these efforts align with the directives of Their Majesties and Highnesses the leaders of the GCC states, who have instructed a focus on the private sector to enable its effective role in achieving economic integration, explaining that this includes establishing cooperation between the public and private sectors, coordinating positions to enhance solidarity and stability in the GCC countries, and meeting the aspirations and ambitions of its citizens.
 
His Excellency also reviewed the free trade agreements that were signed with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and South Korea, and the progress of trade negotiations with both the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and the signing of the joint statement with Japan in July 2023 to resume free trade negotiations between the two sides, while the joint statement was signed with the Republic of Turkey last March, to begin negotiations to conclude a free trade agreement between the two sides. His Excellency also indicated that there are countries that have expressed their serious desire to move forward in this direction with the GCC countries.
 
Furthermore, HE the Secretary General stated that the GCC General Secretariat is currently in discussions with South Korea, Azerbaijan, and Hong Kong to organise separate economic, trade, and investment forums. These forums will involve participation from both the public and private sectors on both sides, with the goal of enhancing cooperation and boosting commercial activities. 

During his speech, he also encouraged all attendees to take part in the First Forum for Sino-Gulf Cooperation for Industries and Investments between the GCC countries and the People’s Republic of China. The forum is set to take place on May 23-24, 2024, in Fujian Province, China, and is expected to have a positive impact on investments and industries between the two sides. 

His Excellency also added that Their Excellencies the Ministers of Trade and Industry, along with the heads of the Councils of Federations and Chambers in the GCC countries, discussed various topics on the agenda. The most prominent of these were the current status and challenges of intra-GCC trade, local added value, "local rules of origin," and local content. They also focused on actively involving the Gulf private sector in addressing economic issues, as well as incorporating Gulf strategies in the industrial, mining, transportation, and logistics sectors.