Gulf Cooperation Council and NZ to Ratify Trade Agreement
New Zealand is likely to ratify a trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) within the next 12 months, according to Steve Jones, NZ Consul General to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Negotiations on the New Zealand–GCC Free Trade Agreement (FTA) successfully concluded on October 31 in 2011 following six rounds of discussions. ‘We have concluded our negotiations on the free trade agreement with the GCC countries two years ago and expect this to be ratified by our government within the next twelve months,’ Mr. Jones told Saifur Rahman of the Gulf News. “We are satisfied with the deal being negotiated, and if implemented, the FTA with the GCC will help [New Zealand’s] gross domestic product (GDP) to grow by up to 1.5 per cent,’ Jones said. The New Zealand Consul General told the Gulf News that the FTA would help increased flow of goods and services and investment both ways. Bilateral trade between the UAE and New Zealand last year reached $738 million (Dh2.7 billion). The UAE’s exports to New Zealand last year reached $315 million, mostly oil and petrochemical products. Saudi Arabia is the New Zealand’s biggest export market in the GCC, representing 45 per cent of its exports to the bloc, the News reports. New Zealand is also looking to assist the GCC states to boost their agricultural production. ‘This an area where we see a strong potential for partnership…New Zealand could lend expertise and know how in agricultural production to these new farms and help the GCC countries in strengthening food security,’ Mr. Jones told the Gulf News. Two-way trade between New Zealand and the GCC, which comprises the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, is worth around $3.23 billion.