New GCC bodies to boost economic integration

This body aims at enhancing integration and coordination among the GCC countries in all economic and development fields

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A consultative summit meeting of the Gulf heads of state and leaders approved here on Tuesday the creation of two apex bodies to accelerate economic integration in various fields by removing potential hurdles.

They are “Commission of Economic and Development Affairs,” and the Economic Judiciary Commission.

The meeting also approved the Vision of King Salman for joint work.

This was announced by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayani at a press conference at the end of the 16th Consultative Meeting. King Salman chaired the meeting at King Abdullah International Convention Center in Jeddah on Tuesday afternoon.

Al-Zayani announced that the GCC leaders approved formation of a high-level body among the member states namely “Commission of Economic and Developmental Affairs.”

This body aims at enhancing integration and coordination among the GCC countries in all economic and development fields and accelerate the pace of joint action, he said. According to Al-Zayani, the Commission will follow up implementation of the Vision of King Salman in boosting joint GCC work in economic and development fields and examine policies, recommendations, studies and projects that contribute to enhancing cooperation, coordination and integration among the member states in these two vital sectors. It will also follow up implementation of the decisions, agreements and regulations adopted by GCC pertaining to economy.

“The GCC leaders also approved the basic law of the Economic Judiciary Commission as mentioned in the economic agreement among the GCC states to serve the interests of the GCC citizens and enable them to benefit from integrated projects and agreements among the member states,” he said, adding that the leaders also agreed to hold joint regular meeting of the GCC ministers of defense, interior and foreign in order to coordinate policies among the member states and take appropriate decisions.

Addressing the press conference, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said that the Commission would be a higher level one with powers to take decisions on various issues. “This body will come out with solutions for economic problems and will present these solutions in front of the GCC leaders directly for their approval. The idea is that there would be an active mechanism to take necessary decisions so as to materialize economic integration among the member states,” he said while pointing out that this Commission represents a quantum leap regarding the economic and financial issues among the GCC states.” Al-Jubeir said the Commission would reduce the long procedures to the minimum in taking decisions on key financial and economic issues. “In the past such issues were handled by the ministerial level committees. Then these committees refer them to the ministries, and the ministries forward them to the Cabinet and then the Cabinet submits it to the head of state.”

He said that Saudi demands sending ground troops to Syria to save the Syrian people. “Since a few years, the Kingdom sees ground intervention is an inevitable step to find a solution to the Syrian tragedy. The Kingdom is still ready to participate in an international ground troop mission, led by the United States and other allies.”

Al-Jubeir blamed Iran for sponsoring terror and interfering in the internal affairs of the neighboring states.

“The GCC states hope that Iran would stop interfering in the affairs of the region, through supporting terrorism, planting terrorist cells and spreading sectarian militias in the region to undermine the security and stability of the countries.” He emphasized “the GCC states cannot have normal relations with a state that has no goal but to destroy us, plant cells and smuggle explosives into our allies, in order to destabilize the region, and these are aggressive acts and that are not acts of good neighborliness. Our doors will be open to build better relations with Iran, being a neighboring Islamic state, when it stop such acts, change its policies and adhere to the principle of good neighborliness and non-interference in the affairs of others,” he said. On the Russian guarantees for non-Iranian interference in the Gulf states’ internal affairs, Al-Jubeir explained that Russia has nothing to do with this.

Referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement with regard to reviving a 2002 Arab peace initiative, Al-Jubeir said that it is too early to evaluate the seriousness of Israel in this respect. “When the Israeli prime minister talked about the initiative, he was talking about some of provisions which are positive in his viewpoint, but he did not accept the Arab initiative as published in the media. But what is more important is to resume negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The Israelis were rejecting the negotiations initiated by the US- Quartet,” Al-Jubeir noted.

Referring to the Yemeni issue, he said that negotiations are going on in Kuwait on the basis of the GCC Initiative and the UN Security Council resolution. On the Saudi role in the establishment of peace in Yemen, Al-Jubeir said that Saudi efforts in Yemen, have begun several years ago, and have the conviction that the solution in Yemen must be peacefully based on Security Council resolution no. 2216, the national dialogue and the GCC initiative.

On Libyan Unity Government, he said it is a legitimate government. “There are international efforts to bring closer leaders of various Libyan groups to resolve the conflict in the strife-torn country,” he added.

The GCC leaders who attended the meeting included Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani; Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah; Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa; UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum; and Omani Deputy Prime Minister Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al-Said. The leaders attended a luncheon banquet hosted by King Salman.

Earlier, the leaders were received by the King at King Abdulaziz International Airport. Those who were present at the airport to receive the leaders also included Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, emir of Makkah and advisor to the King, and Jeddah Governor Prince Mishal Bin Majed.

The Saudi delegation to the summit meeting was headed by King Salman, and included Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, and Minister of State and Member of the Cabinet Musaed Bin Muhammad Al-Aiban.

This article was first published by the Saudi Gazette on June 1, 2016.

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