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British PM seeks to boost Gulf economic ties

British Prime Minister Theresa May with Gulf leaders at the GCC summit in Manama on December 7, 2016. (AFP)

MANAMA: British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday expressed her determination to further boost trade and investment between the UK and Gulf states.
“Your prosperity is also our prosperity,” she said in Bahrain’s capital at the 37th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit.
Trade between the UK and the GCC last year was worth more than 30 billion pounds ($37.8 billion).
May pledged to continue efforts “to make London one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world,” and praised Gulf investment for “helping to regenerate” British cities.
The prime minister announced the formation of a Joint Working Group to examine how to remove trade barriers and further economic liberalization.
She also announced an agreement with Saudi Arabia to allow British businesses to obtain five-year multiple-entry visas, “creating new opportunities for more bilateral business.”
May said London would host an event in March on Gulf national transformation and economic diversification plans.
She called for “an ambitious trade arrangement” between the UK and the Gulf in light of her country’s vote earlier this year to leave the European Union.
May said she was “encouraged by recent economic and social reforms” in the Gulf, and “by the bold vision set out by all of the Gulf states for more fundamental and lasting change, most recently with Saudi Arabia’s vision for 2030.”

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