By Shehab Al Makahleh, Staff Reporter www.gulfnews.com
Abu Dhabi: GCC finance ministry undersecretaries yesterday discussed 20 items on the agendas of the 91st GCC Financial and Economic Committee meetings, which will be held on October 21-22 in Abu Dhabi.
Christine Lagarde, International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director, will be attending the meetings, Ministry of Finance sources said.
Among the issues on the agenda is the strengthening of the GCC Customs Union by the end of 2014, said Younis Haji Al Khoury, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance.
“The coming meeting aims to provide a platform for discussing financial issues related to the GCC,” Al Khoury said.
The GCC meeting will be attended by ministers of finance and economy to discuss important issues that include a railway network, customs tax and duty exemptions on national products.
The six states entered into a customs union in 2003 by simplifying import duties. However, the customs union continues to face problems in collecting duties. Al Khoury said that there will be a specialised authority to take care of customs in the GCC, which will be in charge of collecting custom duties and distributing revenues among the member states.
Delegates will also follow up on the progress of implementing the decisions and plans made by different financial and economic committees, such as the Committee of Governors of Monetary Agencies and Central Banks, the Customs Union Committee, and the team tasked with preparing and participating in cooperation meetings and discussions with the European Union (EU) and other countries and financial institutions, Al Khoury added.
He said that the undersecretaries had also recommended the formation of a judicial economic authority which will group experts in the judiciary and economic fields to be responsible for all such issues.
“We also highlighted the importance of [a] railway [network] among the GCC states, which will help the access and transportation of citizens and expats,” Al Khoury said.
He explained that the unified currency will be discussed by the central banks governors of the four countries which signed the agreement to have the unified currency — which are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. The UAE and Oman are not party to this agreement.
Officials also evaluated the initiatives proposed by the GCC to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and discussed joint GCC investments in the field of education and health.
Al Khoury added that the meeting’s agenda also includes a review of key achievements made by the Gulf Common Market Committee, the financial and technical team tasked with finalising studies regarding the railway project, and the team concerned with researching and studying the economic judiciary system.
The October summit will discuss the initiatives proposed by the GCC to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the recommendations raised by the undersecretaries of ministries of finance.