Following the directives of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on the UAE’s support of the Gulf integration efforts and the Gulf Common Market (GCM), the Ministry of Finance (MoF) organised a brainstorming session yesterday, to deepen Gulf financial and economic integration in Abu Dhabi. This session falls in line with the Ministry’s strategy to encourage the exchange of knowledge and experiences with various concerned parties in order to strengthen joint action among the GCC.
The main goal behind hosting this session was to highlight MoF’s desire to encourage the various organisations involved in Gulf financial and economic integration to find opportunities to enhance the gains achieved by the UAE in terms of economic integration within the GCC. The session was also designed to open channels of communication between these entities as well as explore their different views in these respective fields.
The session was headed by HE Younis Haji Al Khouri, Undersecretary of MoF, in the presence of a number of senior officials of the various entities involved in Gulf financial and economic integration. Five working papers which were presented by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy, Federal Customs Authority, Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry as well as the Securities and Commodities Authority, were discussed during the session.
The brainstorming session was attended by a large number of undersecretaries, assistant undersecretaries, executive and general directors from the: Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Education, National Transport Authority, Securities and Commodities Authority and Federal Authority for Government Human Resources
These were joined by representatives of several of the UAE’s economic development departments including the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research, Dubai Economic Council, Dubai Chamber, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
HE Younis Haji Al Khouri, Undersecretary of MoF, said, “The organisation of this session reflects MoF’s commitment to implement the tasks entrusted to it by the Council of Ministers. The Ministry has been authorised to monitor the implementation of the Unified Economic Agreement between GCC countries in the UAE, and will continue to work alongside various federal and local entities in order to enhance the UAE’s role as an influential partner committed to achieving economic integration in the Gulf.”
HE added, “The Ministry has been tasked with developing the plans and strategies and implement initiatives to drive further economic integration within the region. MoF also depends on integrated work programmes to identify the advantages of Gulf financial and economic integration, such as the Gulf Common Market, which involves organising workshops designed to recognise the different views of the relevant authorities, as well as introductory meetings and sessions for the local community. This creates knowledge about the opportunities available and the most important decisions being taken by the leaders of the GCC countries, which benefit GCC citizens.”
Commenting on the session, HE Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, “Our participation in this brainstorming session reflects the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ commitment to work alongside MoF and the rest of the government entities in the UAE to further financial and economic integration between the GCC countries and the UAE’s transition to becoming a role model in the implementation of all decisions related to the GCC Common Market.”
The various government entities presented their working papers during the brainstorming session. MoF’s working paper discussed the financial and economic integration in the Gulf and was presented by HE Younis Haji Al Khouri. The Ministry of Economy reviewed a working paper which was submitted by HE Mohammed Saleh Shelwah, Assistant Undersecretary for Economy Policy at the Ministry of Economy. HE Khalid Ali Al Bustani, Acting Director General of the Federal Customs Authority (FCA) presented the Authority’s working paper entitled ‘Developments in the GCC customs union’.
The Federation of UAE Chamber of Commerce and Industry also presented during the session and discussed a working paper about ‘the reality and prospects of the GCC common market as well as the challenges faced by business owners in the UAE in the fields of implementing the GCM’, followed by the Securities and Commodities Authority’s working paper entitled ‘GCM and the integration of the GCC financial markets’.
The brainstorming session was concluded with an open debate in order to exchange new ideas initiatives, perceptions and solutions aimed at deepening financial and economic integration within the Gulf. Participants were presented with a number of valuable propositions, which MoF will review and evaluate. Participants agreed on the importance of organising regular meetings in an aim to raise the value of GCC countries and encourage economic integration and cooperation.
Gulf economic and financial integration is based on several key points which include the removal of trade barriers, facilitation of movement of goods among the GCC countries without Customs or non- Customs restrictions and the treatment of the goods produced in any of the GCC states as national products and an agreement to give GCC national, natural and legal persons of any member state the same treatment as accorded to its own citizens without differentiation or discrimination in all economic activities. Last year, MoF launched an electronic system entitled ‘Takamul’ and ‘GCC Takamul’ which was created to support financial and economic integration in the Gulf.