The UAE is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council – GCC which was established in 1981 and includes the states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The GCC aims to strengthen the ties between the six states through cooperation and formation of similar regulations in fields such as economic affairs, trade, customs, tourism, education, administration and legislation. As such, the GCC has formed the Common Customs Law where items imported into any of the GCC states and destined for another GCC state (including the UAE) are only subject to customs duty at the first point of entry.
The objectives of the GCC also include fostering cooperation in the private sector, setting up joint venture, establishing research centers, as well as promote progress in terms of science and technology in the fields of industry, mining, agriculture, water and animal resources.
The provisions in the free trade agreement between the EFTA and the GCC apply to both the trade in goods and services. It covers six main issues: trade in goods, services, competition, intellectual property and investment, government procurement and administration and dispute settlement.
The Agreement is currently pending ratification by both the GCC and EFTA and will be supervised by a Joint Committee. Upon entry into force, exporters will enjoy benefits such as elimination of most import tariffs (except for ones mentioned in the Agreement), protection of intellectual property rights, and equal treatment for locally and partially foreign affiliated or owned companies.
The full text of the agreement can be accessed on EFTA’s website: http://www.efta.int/free-trade/free-trade-agreements/gcc