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Minister reveals concerns over UK Government’s plans for trade talks with Gulf states

22 Jun 2022 2 minute read
Dubai. Image by Olga Ozik from Pixabay

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething says the Welsh Government has concerns about the UK Government’s plans to launch trade negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The GCC, also known as the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, is a regional, intergovernmental political and economic union that consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

In a written statement, Mr Gething noted that there is already a significant amount of trade between the UK and GCC states and said the Welsh Government is supportive of measures to increase this further.

However, he said there was unease about negotiations with some of the GCC states.

“Our approach to trade policy, based on using a Well-being of Future Generations Act lens, means we consider trade deals to be about more than purely economic gains,” Mr Gething wrote.

“We believe trade deals should contain provisions on other key issues such as worker and gender rights and the environment.

“The Welsh Government will make representations to UK Government at both official and ministerial levels wherever possible to ensure our concerns are heard.

“We would support the progression within any agreement on the issues set out above, including dedicated chapters and provisions where appropriate.”

Oil and gas production

“…as a member of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA), Wales is committed to working with stakeholders to facilitate the managed phase-out of oil and gas production,” he added.

“Therefore, we would want to see a trade deal with the GCC that includes strong transitioning arrangements to support all parties to diversify away from oil production  and focus on renewable energy.”

In 2021, goods trade between Wales and GCC states reached £1.2bn, of which imports and exports were worth around £733m and £493m respectively.

In his statement Mr Gething acknowledged that a comprehensive free trade agreement with the Gulf states could provide opportunities for businesses in Wales to secure or strengthen goods and services trade with them.

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