Economic integration

Discussion on Economic Integration, Customs Union and GCC Common Market

Riyadh: Mohamed Bin Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, led the UAE delegation attending the 117th meeting of the GCC Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee, held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia , with the aim of discussing the progress of work on the economic integration of the GCC, as well as a number of topics related to the customs union and the common market of the GCC.

The UAE delegation included Ahmad Abdullah Bin Lahej Alfalasi, Director General of the Federal Customs Authority; Ali Abdullah Sharafi, Deputy Undersecretary of the International Financial Relations Sector at the Ministry of Finance; Ibrahim Al Jarwan, Director of the GCC Affairs Department at the Ministry of Finance; and Hamad Al Zaabi, Director of the Cabinet of the Minister of State for Financial Affairs.

Finance ministers from the GCC countries and the secretary general of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf were also present.

Al Hussaini underscored the UAE’s willingness to strengthen cooperation with the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council on matters related to the GCC’s economic integration.

“The periodic meetings held by the GCC Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee provide an essential platform to deliberate on the challenges facing the economic sectors of the GCC countries and to work towards realizing the economic integration of the GCC, to meet aspirations of the GCC leaders and their peoples,” he said.

The meeting aimed to discuss the outcomes of the 79th Meeting of GCC Central Bank Governors and the outcomes of the 11th Meeting of the Committee of Heads and Directors of GCC State Revenue Administrations.

He also deliberated on the outcome of the 29th meeting of the GCC Customs Union Authority and the outcome of the first meeting of the Board of Directors of the GCC Customs Union Authority.

Discussion on GCC Customs Union and Common Market

In addition, the meeting reviewed the report of the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council on the remaining steps to establish the customs union, as well as the full implementation of the GCC common market pathways according to a specific timetable before the end from 2024. .

This, in addition to the results of the 36th meeting of the GCC Common Market Committee and the results of the fourth meeting of the small group of finance ministries to discuss the G20 Finance Track initiatives.

Connect payment systems

During the meeting, the finance ministers also reviewed updates on the signing of the agreement to link the payment systems of the GCC countries, and the program related to achieving economic unity among the GCC countries by 2025.

On the sidelines of the meeting, finance ministers and central bank governors of the GCC countries met Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

During the meeting, Al Hussaini previewed the UAE’s economic policy, COVID-19 strategy, initiatives, plans and recovery, and gave an overview of climate change and energy security, public-private partnerships and UAE’s progress in achieving gender equality. .

“This meeting is particularly important to discuss ways and find solutions to deal with global challenges, such as high inflation, tighter global economic conditions, away from quantitative easing,” he said.

Regarding the UAE’s economic policy, strategy, initiatives, plans and COVID-19 recovery, he noted that the global economy remains fragile and needs to overcome several challenges. The global supply chain disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and high energy prices have pushed global inflation to historic highs, exacerbating vulnerabilities in emerging and developing economies . Furthermore, he mentioned that international coordination is needed to mitigate current risks and impacts and reduce global imbalances.”

Al Hussaini added, “The UAE government has spared no effort to withstand the impact of COVID-19 through various economic support programs aimed at businesses, SMEs and financial institutions. Post-COVID-19 plans and initiatives have been introduced to accelerate recovery.”

Al Hussaini also pointed out that in June 2022, the UAE introduced an inflation-targeted support program for some people affected by rising costs, to improve their quality of life in light of high prices. and inflation around the world.

He also mentioned that the UAE Cabinet had approved the issuance of up to 45 billion dirhams of local debt with the main purpose of establishing an AED-denominated yield curve, in order to diversify funding sources. .

Climate change, energy security

On climate change and energy security, Al Hussaini stressed that the UAE’s energy efforts aim to ensure access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services. This is on top of substantially increasing the share of renewables in the global energy mix and doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency. Her Excellency also reaffirmed the UAE’s commitment to supporting international efforts to mitigate climate change.

Al Hussaini explained that partnerships, especially between the public and private sectors, remain key to achieving sustainable and inclusive growth. SE also noted that enhancing the role of the private sector in growth, job creation and diversification of the economy has been a priority for the UAE in recent years.

On the UAE’s gender balance strategy, he said the UAE has made tremendous strides in achieving gender equality and closing the gender gap at all levels. The United Arab Emirates was ranked 1st regionally and 18th globally in the Gender Inequality Index (GII) of the United Nations Development Program Human Development Report 2020.

“We are keen to strengthen the leading role of Emirati women in the inclusive growth of the country, as women are an integral part of our strategic and development agenda. Achieving sustainable and inclusive economic prosperity is only possible through women’s participation in the labor market,” Al Hussaini said. .

On the sidelines of their annual meeting, their Excellencies the GCC Finance Ministers attended a high-level seminar entitled “Working together to fight food insecurity”.