Businessmen voice concerns ahead of GCC common market


Members of the committee formed by the Consulting Commission for the Higher Council of the GCC Arab Countries met with businessmen at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) to hear their views about preparations and requirements for establishing a proper work and investment environment. Some of the main issues had to do with laws and regulations, transparency and accountability.

“The common currency for the GCC is expected to be ready by 2010, but before that the common market needs to be ready and that is expected before the end of 2007,” explained Dr. Ihsan Bu-Hulaiga, a member of the committee. He said that the committee members wanted to hear from businessmen and women in order to identify what needs to be changed or implemented and make their recommendations to the Higher Council.

In their meeting in December 2006, the Higher Council assigned the Consulting Commission to study ways of improving the work environment for the private sector in order to guarantee that Gulf companies and investments in the GCC countries are treated as the national companies and investments.

The Commission, which consists of five members from each country, met in Riyadh on April 29 and appointed a committee to conduct the detailed studies, which includes meetings to be organized with the chambers of commerce to discuss certain topics. The topics are: the requirements for achieving the Gulf common market, sufficiency of legislation within the framework of the GCC, implementation and compliance with the legislation, establishing companies, the investment environment for the sectors, protecting competition, legal procedures, and the social responsibility of investments.

Several businessmen questioned whether Saudi Arabia was ready to enter a common market, compared to other Gulf countries such as the UAE, and suggested learning from its experience. “We have factors here that repel investment rather than attract them, including the way the Ministry of Commerce and Industry complicates things through bureaucracy and inefficiency,” said a businessman.

Another said that the laws and regulations, if they exist in the first place, are old and inadequate. JCCI board member Madhawi Al-Hassoun asked about changing the Kingdom’s regulations regarding businesswomen which she said hinder their progress and ability to compete.




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