Cooperation among member states
The formation of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) took place way back in 1981 at the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The original member countries that entered into this agreement included United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.
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Broad aim of establishing this trade agreement was to forge a close relationship among member states (GCC, 2014). Other factors that necessitated the formation of this trade agreement were common objectives, joint destiny, common faith system (Islamic belief) and similar political systems.
In order to propel the core objectives and growth of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a planning council was set up. The member countries enjoy a regional common market bearing in mind that they have a broad option for free trade. In addition, these countries enjoy geographical proximity.
The GCC states have also witnessed major attention in the military field and such, all the member states consider themselves as a unit when it comes to matters related to defense and security. Members consider an attack against one of them to be an offence to all the member states. The GCC member countries are therefore compelled to forge a common security strategy by mobilizing their capabilities and coordinating their policies. Hence, the security challenges faced within the Gulf region are addressed in a collective manner.
A common conception is being applied by the GCC member states so that a robust defense force can be built up. As a result, military curricula, training, and operational procedures have been unified. The desire to create compatible military systems is also part and parcel the broad objectives of the GCC member states. As it stands now, both air and sea maneuvers are carried out jointly. For instance, the Peninsula Shield Force has been holding joint military drills with the armed forces drawn from the GCC member states.
Cooperation with other free trade agreements
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has also developed a working relationship with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Member states include Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. In June 2009, GCC signed a working agreement with EFTA member states (Gulf Cooperation Council, 2014).
EFTA was formed with the aim of enhancing economic integration and free trade among member countries. It is largely an intergovernmental organization established in order to create both internal and external gains to the four member countries. Nonetheless, it is crucial to mention that that the association the EFTA Convention that is charged with the role of administering free trade relations among the member states.
The working cooperation between GCC and EFTA covers a number of domains such as competition, government procurement, trade in services, and trade in goods. In order to supervise the execution of the pact, a joint committee comprising of both GCC and EFTA member states was formed.
The committee is charged with several supervisory roles such as acting as an arbiter whenever disputes or disagreements arise among members. Besides, a free trade area between GCC and EFTA member countries are also entitled to agricultural exchange through trade. The latter has been made possible through bilateral agreements between the two regional blocks.
However, inappropriate or lack of application of the agreement by the local authorities was reported recently. As it stands now, the EFTA member states do not enjoy preferential treatment for goods entering the GCC region. As a matter of fact, this is against the tenets of the agreement adopted by GCC and EFTA.
In order to resolve the impasse, importers and exporters within EFTA trading block have been advised to identify themselves to the local authorities in GCC regions so that they van be granted express rights for preferential treatment.
The issue is being followed up closely by the EFTA secretariat and EFTA member countries. Although the standoff might soon be resolved, it has already created cracks and a negative impression of the GCC that it can adhere to agreements. This precedence might strain future relations between EFTA and GCC member states.
GCC has also forged a working agreement with the European Union (EU). The agreement covers political and trade relations (EU relations with the Gulf, 2014). The 1988 cooperation agreement was incepted between the GCC and EU member states with the following broad objectives:
- Enhancing collaboration on matters related to environment, technology, science, investment, fisheries, agriculture, trade and services, as well as energy.
- Expand economic and technical collaboration.
- Coordinate political and economic affairs.
- Strengthen political stability in areas considered to be prudent.
The establishment of this agreement also called for the need of a Secretariat to manage the affairs of the cooperation. Ministerial meetings and joint council meetings are held annually between the two regional blocks. Although the main focus of the cooperation lies within economic integration of the GCC and EU regions, GCC might lose its full commitment to the pact bearing in mind that it was primarily formed to secure the Gulf region. Nonetheless, GCC is still among the largest export markets for European Union. This explains why both sides have appended their signatures to remain committed to the pact owing to the apparent trade benefits.
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EU relations with the Gulf. (2014). Web.
GCC. (2014). Web.
Gulf Cooperation Council. ( 2014). Web.