In line with the principles of Gulf Economic Integration and the UAE’s role in this area, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) implements a unified economic agreement between GCC countries, joint GCC economic action, as well as relevant projects including financial integration, the establishment of the free trade zone and the implementation of the GCC Customs Union and Gulf Common Market. The GCC is considered to be an internationally solid economic unit, based on mutual cooperation among its members.
The ministry established the Department of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf affairs, a specialised department which is responsible for following-up on the implementation of Economic Integration projects, and the following competencies:
- Preparing studies and providing suggestions to strengthen financial and economic integration with GCC countries, and to strengthen partnerships with the private sector concerning matters of joint Gulf economic business.
- Following-up on the implementation of the unified economic agreement of the GCC countries, economic decisions taken by the GCC Supreme Council and the related ministerial committees, in coordination with concerned authorities in the country.
- Participation in the relevant committees of the GCC, and following-up on the implementation of recommendations issued in this regard.
- Following-up on the workflow of the GCC Common Market, in accordance with the decisions of relevant councils and committees.
- Participating in economic dialogue and joint project meetings of GCC countries, and following-up on the implementation of the recommendations issued in this regard.
- Following-up on drafts of framework agreements and free trade agreements between GCC countries and international economic groupings and countries.
- Studying and analysing decisions and recommendations issued by the GCC and its committees, suggesting and following-up its implementation in coordination with federal authorities and relevant governmental bodies.
The department raises awareness and provides information about Gulf financial and economic integration, and its positive impact on citizens, institutions and the private sector. The department is also keen to work alongside its strategic partners to set future plans and to receive their feedback and suggestions in support of the Gulf integration process.
The Objectives of Gulf Economic Integration:
Gulf Economic Integration constitutes one of the main objectives of the GCC according to the provisions of Article IV of the GCC’s set of laws, which calls for the following:
- Achieving coordination, integration and interdependence among member countries in all fields to maintain unity.
- Deepening and strengthening relations and enhancing cooperation among member countries in various fields.
- Formulating similar regulations in economic, financial affairs, commerce, customs and transportation, etc.
- Stimulating scientific and technological progress in the economic fields, establishing scientific research and joint ventures, and encouraging cooperation with the private sector.
The structure of joint GCC economic action starts with the GCC Supreme Council, ministers and ad-hoc committees, and the implementation and follow-up committees.
Gulf integration is based on factors such as facilitating the movement of production, removing all trade barriers, and coordinating and unifying economic policies. With the establishment of the free trade zone in 1983, the GCC Customs Union in 2003 and the Gulf Common Market in 2008, steps have been made in the accomplishment of these components. Work is currently underway to complete the requirements of the Monetary Union and the issuance of a GCC single currency.
The GCC countries adopt practical policies and a progressive and realistic approach in implementing economic integration projects. These rely on a "step by step" process to help identify the objectives and develop applicable programs.
The Gulf Common Market seeks via economic citizenship to achieve total equality among citizens of GCC countries in all fields, especially in relation to: Residence and freedom of movement, employment in public and private sectors, social security and retirement, occupational specialisation, economic activities, investments, services, real-estate and property, movement of capital, tax treatment, trade, buying shares, establishment of corporations, education, medical services and social development.
Integrated projects are implemented by committees and teams relevant to each requirement, and also by MoF - as the concerned authority in the UAE and Federal Customs Authority (FCA). However, complaints and obstacles are addressed on the level of the GCC countries through liaison officers in the member states using "Bilateral Solutions". If the issue cannot be resolved, it is referred to the relevant committee, whether the Customs Union Joint Committee or the Common Market Joint Committee; and if the issue fails to be resolved in these first two phases, the Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee steps in to take action. In 2012, the ministry launched GCC Takamul, which is an electronic gateway for complaints and enquiries related to the Customs Union and the Gulf Common Market. GCC Takamul can be found on the ministry’s website, and it links 28 Federal and local authorities. MoF also formed a national team comprising 34 Federal and local authorities to promote Gulf Economic and Financial Integration.
The achievements accomplished by the UAE in the area of GCC joint integration are documented in the statistical reports of the Gulf Cooperation Council General Secretariat. In 2013, the UAE was ranked first with regard to permitting citizens of Gulf countries to own real estate (76%) and granting licenses for economic activities (86%). The country was ranked second with regard to attracting citizens from GCC countries to work in its government sector (34%), admitting students of the Gulf countries to public education (30%), and the volume of intra-regional trade of GCC countries (22%) of the total exports and imports.
The GCC countries are keen to interact with the world through a strong economic union, as this will strengthen the position of the GCC worldwide and will enable members to participate in decision-making on the global economic map. Given the data and statistics, the total volume of the economy of all GCC countries was ranked 12 in 2013 amongst the biggest economies in the world. In this year, GCC countries achieved a GDP of $1.62 trillion.
The GCC represents the fifth most important global economic group in terms of trade volume. Foreign trade volume of all GCC countries reached $1.42 trillion and the value of their total exports reached $921 billion, making the GCC countries the fourth largest global exporter after China, the USA and Germany. As for imports, the GCC countries are ranked 10th amongst the biggest importers in the world with a value that reached $514 billion in 2013.