Bahrain PM: GCC has made great strides in cooperation

May 31, 2012

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have made great strides in their economic and political cooperation in the last 30 years, Bahrain’s prime minister has said.

“We are now working to develop this cooperation so as to reach the stage of union in order to achieve greater economic and political cooperation,” Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa said. “The Union will have a positive impact on the people of the region and will open new horizons for economic development creating an economic bloc estimated at $1 trillion [Dh3.67 trillion],” the premier said in a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Thailand on Thursday.

Bahrain has strongly supported a call by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to the six GCC members to move from the phase of cooperation started in 1981 to the phase of unity within a single entity.

Greater need

The call is still being studied by the members of the alliance amid expectations that an announcement on the union will be made before or at the GCC summit in Manama next December. The GCC is made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

In his speech, Prince Khalifa said there was a greater need to continue cooperation and coordination between countries and to open new opportunities for trade and remove obstacles off private investment.

Such measures limit the negative impact of the international financial crisis and stimulate economic activity, he said.

“This calls for ensuring adequate availability of trade finance, sufficient foreign currency liquidity, managing large and volatile capital flows, and protecting the region’s financial stability,” he said.

Prince Khalifa said that there were “great possibilities and opportunities” to realise the common vision adopted by the first joint ministerial meeting between GCC countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Bahrain in 2009.

Important markets

“We wish to note in this context that the IMF statistics for 2012 show that growth rates in Asean and GCC countries continue to be in the range of five and four per cent, respectively. GCC countries have the advantage in the field of abundant energy production, as their combined output amounts to 14.5 million barrels per day, which accounts for nearly 20 per cent of world production,” he said.

“Their production of natural gas amounts to 284 billion cubic metres, which represents 9.5 per cent of the total world production, and their sovereign wealth funds account for 50 per cent of the total value of these funds worldwide. Furthermore, GCC countries provide Asean countries with one of the most important markets in the field of food imports and trade exchange in general,” Prince Khalifa said.

According to the Bahraini premier, there is no doubt that Asean has become a source of inspiration to many developing countries and one of the most influential economic and commercial blocs in the world.

“The role and impact of Asean will certainly increase with the arrival of the Asean Community in 2015,” he said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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