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And Julian Jessop, the former chief economist at the Institute of Economic Affairs, hailed the news as proof Britain is putting new trade deals in place much faster than Brexit opponents anticipated. Britain has embarked on a 14-week consultation on a future GCC deal and is seeking public and business input, with International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan hoping to start talks on a deal in 2022 .
Total bilateral trade was worth over £ 30bn in 2020 and a deal with the six monarchies is seen as a key goal for post-Brexit Britain – with the EU having failed to strike a similar deal.
Mr Jessop told Express.co.uk: “The Department of International Trade has already extended or improved our existing trade agreements much faster than most anticipated.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan is the Secretary of International Trade
The Department of International Trade (DIT) believes that a deal would take the relationship to the next level in industries of the future such as digital trade, services and green growth – creating better paying jobs across the country.
Ms Trevelyan said: “A trade deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council is a huge opportunity to liberalize trade with a growing market for UK companies and to deepen ties with a region vital to our strategic interests.
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The International Trade Secretary, who took over from Liz Truss in a recent cabinet reshuffle that saw the latter promoted to foreign minister, is expected to hold a bilateral meeting in London with GCC Secretary-General Dr Nayef Falah M Al -Hajraf and members of the government of Bahrain. , who currently holds the rotating presidency of the GCC.
Concluding in January 2022, the consultation includes a questionnaire to gather information from participants on their experiences and priorities when doing business with GCC countries to ensure that any future deal reflects the UK’s best interests. .
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“From exports of Welsh Lamb and Scottish Beef to Biscuits in Belfast and Financial Services in the City of London, I am committed to a deal that will further solidify our relationship, attract investment, foster business opportunities and bring benefits. significant to UK businesses. , creating jobs in communities across the country.
Paul Benton, International Managing Director of the Association of British HealthTech Industries, said: “As the region’s economies have matured and diversified in recent years, we have seen significant demand for proven UK health technologies, and improving trade opportunities with the region will only increase this further. “
However, Shadow’s International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry said there are undoubtedly opportunities for UK business in the Gulf, but there are also “a lot of practical issues”.
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She said: ‘There are compelling opportunities for UK businesses in the Gulf, from green technologies and the construction industry to educational exports and leisure services, but there are also a lot of practical issues.
“How prepared is the DIT to negotiate an agreement where barriers to service exports are the main issue, not tariffs?” UNITED ARAB EMIRATES?
“What commitments will the CCG be ready to make on climate change?” And at a basic level, how easy will it be to agree common rules with a set of countries whose own systems are still quite different?
“But above all, it’s a question of morality, and whether we should be prepared to agree on preferential trading terms with a group of autocracies that have some of the world’s worst human rights abuse records.” , mistreatment of workers, and subjugation of women.
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Since its inception in 1981, there have been few instances where the GCC has been able to conclude free trade agreements.
The agreements with the four countries of the European Free Trade Association and Singapore are among the few that it has successfully concluded.
Others have failed for political reasons. In 1990, free trade negotiations between the GCC and the EU were launched but subsequently failed due to Europe’s insistence on including human rights clauses. The talks ended in 2008 without a deal.
Likewise, trade negotiations with Australia began in July 2007 but ended two years later without reaching an agreement.