Now UK pursues trade deal with gulf states

The UK has opened negotiations in Riyadh aimed at reaching a free trade deal with the six states that comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

uk trade deal
The talks represent the fourth major set of FTA negotiations launched by the UK this year after visits by Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan to India in January, Canada in March and Mexico last month.

An agreement with the GCC members - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE - would be worth an extra £1.6 billion a year to the UK economy, according to government estimates.

Ms Trevelyan, who began negotiations this week with GCC Secretary General Dr Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf, said the talks represented a "significant milestone" for the UK’s close relationship with the Gulf.

"Our current trading relationship was worth £33.1 billion in the last year alone. From our fantastic British food and drink to our outstanding financial services, I’m excited to open up new markets for UK businesses large and small, and supporting the more than ten thousand SMEs already exporting to the region," she added.

"This trade deal has the potential to support jobs from Dover to Doha, growing our economy at home, building vital green industries and supplying innovative services to the Gulf."

The GCC is already the UK’s seventh largest export market and some Gulf states - notably the UAE and Qatar - have previously raised the possibility of bilateral trade deals with the British.

William Bain, head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said negotiations with the GCC were likely to be more complex than others recently undertaken by the UK.

"But," he added, "they also have the potential for a greater uplift for exporters across the UK, particularly in services and emerging technology.
“If the negotiations yield a comprehensive free trade agreement covering all six Gulf states, total trade with the UK could rise by an additional £7 billion by 2035, with new opportunities for investment flows being created.

“Stronger foundations for access to Gulf product markets, more predictable regulatory practices, and lower tariffs would also benefit UK machinery, automotive and food exporters.”

Stephen Phipson, CEO of the manufacturers' organisation Make UK, also welcomed the opening of the talks.

“It is extremely helpful that the UK and GCC are committed to work towards seeking the opportunities from ‘green innovation’, which will bring significant opportunities for Britain’s innovative renewable energy companies which are already leading the way in this area of global concern,” he said.

The Department for International Trade in London said a trade deal with the GCC deal also would bring "significant benefits" for British farmers and producers, as the Gulf is highly dependent on imported food.

"With almost £30 billion already invested in each other’s economies, this deal would also help unlock even more opportunities for investment between the UK and GCC countries," the department added.

"Gulf investments supported over 25,000 UK jobs in 2019 – a number that tripled over the previous decade – and analysis shows the East Midlands, West Midlands, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber will be in line for the greatest proportional gains when the ink dries on a new deal.

"The deal would also be estimated to boost the economies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by almost £500 million collectively."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted, June articles.

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory 

Related Articles