Post-Brexit, Gulf states eye free trade deal with UK

Region’s officials meet Fox, new British Minister of international trade in London

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Gulf officials have expressed interest in pursuing a free trade deal with the UK following last month’s vote to leave the EU.

At the second Gulf-British Economic Forum in London which concluded on Thursday, Brexit was one of the topics discussed.

The forum was organized by the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce with support of the GCC and UK Trade and Investment authority.

According to Arab News, the meeting was attended by Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom, Abdullatif al-Zayani, Secretary-General of the GCC, Majid al-Qassabi, Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment, and William Fox, new British Minister of international trade.

Others who participated in the forum included a number of GCC ministers and ambassadors and Arab and British businessmen.

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, who opened the Forum, praised the GCC-UK trade relations and stressed the importance of the Gulf states as trading partners of the United Kingdom.

He expected the UK-GCC trade to strengthen following the UK vote to leave the EU.

During the five sessions, the participants discussed economic development, stimulating the entrepreneurship in the youth sector and tie-ups between the public sector and the private sector.

Economic reforms that are essential for a strong, balanced economy and achieving sustainable growth was also discussed.

According to UAE newspaper The National, Qassabi revealed that following the Brexit vote, the GCC was engaged in free-trade talks with the UK.

The Saudi minister met privately with Fox, along with other officials from the UK and GCC.

“We are deepening, and broadening our already strong relationship,” Fox said.

There are more than 5,000 British firms based in the UAE, and the region’s market is worth $197.5 billion for the UK with exports focused on telecoms, power generation, electronics and transportation.

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