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GCC Days highlights need for ties

Not many people know about the Gulf Cooperation Council or what it stands for but everyone knows about its member states and their importance in the development of this nation.

To shed light on various issues, the GCC is teaming up with leaders from both sides to participate in two-days of seminars.

“The relations between the GCC and South Korea are wide and comprehensive and encompass all fields of cooperation,” said United Arab Emirates Ambassador Abdulla Al-Ma’ainah to The Korea Herald.

Such events have been held in many European capitals in the past but this year marks the first time GCC Days is being held in an Asian city.
UAE Amb. Abdulla Al-Ma’ainah
UAE Amb. Abdulla Al-Ma’ainah

“We hope that GCC Days in Seoul will increase the communication between the GCC and South Korea in particular and its ties with the Asian continent in general as well as enhance the mutual understanding between the two sides through a constructive dialogue and promoting the relations between the two sides in all spheres,” he said.

The Gulf Cooperation Council is a political and economic union with many economic and social objectives involving six Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

Hosted at Lotte Hotel in central Seoul on Feb. 10-11, the first day of the seminar will examine various ways in which the relationship can be improved upon such as strengthening relations and the role of women in the development of GCC countries.

On Feb. 11, both sides will discuss all facets of the economic and trade ties both countries share today and will share in the future.

To emphasize the importance of these seminars, the GCC Secretariat has invited GCC Secretary General Abdulrahman Al-Attiyah to give keynote speeches for the three seminars.

“GCC nations maintain good economic cooperation relations with Korea,” said Al-Ma’ainah.

“Each side can search for more chances to expand economic cooperation. This can be done through the increase of trade exchange and diversifying of exports and imports as well as the expansion of existing joint investments and entering new ones.”

The Council, which is comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, has taken steps toward enhancing economic cooperation between its members as well as building economic relations.

“There is a lot of potential in the GCC for infrastructure projects,” he said.

The UAE is not the only country in the Gulf that has opted to move ahead with renewable energy. Other member states have set plans in motion related to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes including the introduction of policies related to green growth and environmental protection.

Taking the European Union as a model, GCC members have eliminated tariffs amongst the six nations and aspire to gradually achieve a single market economy.

The Korean government has been negotiating a free trade agreement with GCC countries since 2008.

The latest round of FTA talks between Korea and the GCC in July 2009 made significant progress when agreements in almost all areas including investment, service and rules of origin were reached.

However, Al-Attiyah noted that both sides needed to conduct more talks on some issues such as tariff concessions on automobiles, electronics and steel products.

By Yoav Cerralbo (yoav@heraldcorp.com)
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