GCC welcomes New Year with common market


The launch of the Gulf common market is well on schedule, as pledged by the GCC leaders during the recent Doha Summit, albeit with far reaching implications and challenges. The outcome of the economic integration, the scope of which entails major global impact, will unfold as the GCC countries forge ahead in realising the aspirations of the peoples.

Marking an important step, the Gulf common market moves beyond the free movement of goods and services, which were agreed in the GCC customs union, to include labour and capital flows. The Gulf common market aims to create one market… raising production efficiency and optimum usage of available resources and improving the GCC’s negotiating position among international economic forums.

The single market offers GCC citizens opportunities in the Gulf economy, facilitating broader mutual and foreign investments. The common market facilitates higher levels of labour mobility within the GCC. Gulf citizens will be able to work in any state of GCC, in government and private institutions and they can invest anywhere and move freely between the countries of GCC.

The common market is aimed at achieving equal treatment for people in the six Gulf states in business, investment, employment, education and medical care. The Sultanate has made exceptional headway in implementing the Gulf common market, paving the way for a smooth transition into the new economic reality by adopting the required legal, economic and financial market reforms. Almost all the economic, financial, service and manufacturing sectors in Oman are already compliant to adopt the common market policies.

The Sultanate’s advantages in adapting to the common market primarily stem from its membership to the World Trade Organisation and the free trade agreements signed with the United States and other prominent countries. The investment environment in Oman already reflects the common market mechanisms wherein GCC residents can buy property and set up businesses. The wide ranging gamut of the scope of the Gulf common market will transform the region into one of the world’s leading economic blocs.

The gross domestic product of the GCC states in 2007 stood at around $ 800 billion, which makes them an economy close to the size of India in dollar terms. However, in terms of cash flow and investing potential, the GCC states are indeed a superpower. The total investment capability of the GCC stands over $ 4,000 billion, roughly equivalent to the combined GDP of Britain and France. It is also more than double the available investment funds of China.

The Sultanate has the distinction of being the first country in the GCC to allow the free movement of citizens of member countries, using smart identity cards. The Sultanate is ready for the full implementation of the common market and no major delays are anticipated in this regard. Some manuals are already ready while others are under preparation. A pertinent issue is that the other GCC countries must respond as quick as Oman in implementing the common market.

With regard to the impact of the common market on the Omanisation strategy, the Sultanate is prepared to face the consequences in a spirit of give and take. Oman is witnessing a boom in economic activities and the requirement for skilled personnel is very high. Professional GCC citizens can benefit from this requirement as qualifications will be the yardstick which determines the flow of GCC personnel from one country to another. The free market places no restrictions on the movement of labour from one country to another.

Higher education and vocational training programmes will play a crucial role in moulding the required skilled personnel for the GCC countries. Oman has moved ahead in higher education and vocational training to benefit from this requirement. The tourism segment in Oman will witness major capital inflows in the wake of the common market. The main advantages for investors in Oman include free access for Omani products in the global market in view of the various free trade agreements in place and local trained labour. For mega industrial ventures, proposed gas supply agreements with neighbouring countries will be a major boost.


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