EU told to review stance on trade ties with GCC


Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf said Wednesday the European Union continued to make unreasonable demands that had forced the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to suspend negotiations in order to preserve economic relations between both sides.

He made the observation at the 10th Saudi-Italian Joint Commission meeting held in Riyadh.

The meeting was co-chaired by Al-Assaf and Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini.

Addressing the session, Al-Assaf pointed out the Joint Committee had been playing an important role in bilateral trade relations.

He told Italian businessmen about projects executed by the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah in the railway, water desalination and power sectors, among others.

Al-Assaf indicated the growth indicators of the Saudi economy amounted to 4.2 percent in 2008. He also pointed out the total volume of financial flows of direct investments into the Kingdom in 2008 amounted to $ 38.2 billion, making the Kingdom one of the top five recipients of foreign investment in the world.

On the global economy, he stressed the Kingdom had been focusing its efforts on achieving stability in the world oil markets through continued investments in expanding refining capacity to maintain balanced and acceptable prices to producers as well as consumers.

Outlining the strong relations between Saudi Arabia and Italy, Frattini described his country as the major trade partner from Europe.

He also commended the efforts of the Kingdom in improving the economic climate in the region and expanding its area.

Following the meeting, Frattini discussed the outcome of the joint commission with Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal on Wednesday.

Both were satisfied with efforts to promote bilateral relations.

They also discussed regional and international issues of common concern, particularly pushing ahead with the Middle East peace process as well as regional and international efforts in freeing the Gulf region and the Middle East from weapons of mass destruction.


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