Gulf Common Market … Great Expectations

  • 2 January 2008

With the beginning of the year 2008, the Gulf Common Market was launched in accordance with ‘Doha declaration,’ which was issued at the final meeting of the 28th session of Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

With this step, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has taken an important step toward joint economic cooperation between the six member states. With this step, Gulf citizens are entertaining high expectations on the future of economic cooperation among GCC member countries. These expectations are legitimate, because the features of the Gulf Common Market ensure the strength of the Gulf markets. The Gulf Common Market would reinforce the financial and investment sectors and would allow the easy flow of money among members of the council. The provision for participation of the Gulf expatriate community in the investment sector has ensured a huge Gulf financial market, including 631 companies, whose asset value is estimated in the trillions of dollars. This provides ample opprtunity for Gulf investors as well as the citizens of GCC states, as the latter could now have better job opportunities. In addition to these important benefits, Gulf citizens can now avail the special expertise and services in the education and health care sectors found in certain countries of the GCC. In addition, the Gulf Common Market will bolster the strength of the GCC to negotiate at the international level, as it would become an economic force under one title.
These benefits of the Gulf Common Market could be availed only if all the concerned sides make all-out efforts in overcoming the obstacles faced by the market. These obstacles include, legislative incompatibility in some member states with respect to market realities, difficulty in introducing common Gulf currency (officially scheduled for 2010), lack of agreements on linking a single currency with a “basket of currencies,” as well as varying levels of inflation, GDP, and growth rates among various Gulf economies.

The Gulf Common Market is considered a new initiative in the march of the GCC states. It is an important initiative in the context of economic cooperation among Arab countries, and falls within the framework of the “Arab League.” Undoubtedly, GCC leaders have the requisite will to overcome these impediments, a will that has raised the expectations of Gulf citizens of reaching a phase when the obstacles would have been overcome. This will reflects itself in the decision of the GCC leaders, and is manifested in the establishment of the Gulf Common Market on time, in accordance with a mutually agreed upon timetable.