RIYADH: Negotiations aimed at boosting trade between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which currently stands at $34 billion, began in Riyadh on Wednesday.
UK Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan met GCC Secretary-General Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajjraf to launch the trade talks, according to an official press release.
The UK is the third-largest export market for the GCC, and the new trade negotiations are expected to benefit exporters from both jurisdictions.
“I’m excited to open up new markets for UK businesses large and small, and supporting the more than 10,000 SMEs already exporting to the region,” said Trevelyan.
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 UK government analysis has suggested that a deal with the GCC is expected to increase trade by at least 16 percent, which will add at least $1.6 billion a year to the country’s economy.
As the GCC countries, including Saudi Arabia, are aiming to diversify their economies, the new trade negotiations are expected to attract exports and investments in areas like technology, cyber, life sciences, creative industries, education, and artificial intelligence.
“A UK-GCC free trade agreement will increase trade and investment both ways, contributing to economic growth and prosperity in the UK, Saudi Arabia and across the Gulf, and cementing the strong diplomatic cooperation between the UK and GCC countries,” said Neil Crompton, British ambassador to Saudi Arabia.