Pakistan, Gulf countries resume free-trade talks after a 13-year gap

After a gap of 13 years, Pakistan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Wednesday resumed negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA), a top Pakistani diplomat in Riyadh said. The intention to resume the talks was declared during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Islamabad in 2019, but they were further delayed by the coronavirus outbreak.

Islamabad started free-trade negotiations with the GCC — an intergovernmental economic union of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — in 2004, but after two rounds of talks in 2006 and 2008, only a broader outline was reached.

Pakistan has FTAs only with three countries: China, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. If its GCC deal materializes, it would greatly expand the country’s export market in the Middle East, especially for agricultural products.

Source: Arab News Pk