Gulf states to ensure smooth flow of goods

Gulf states are planning to unify specifications of foodstuffs and other products to ensure smooth implementation of their landmark common market that was launched at the start of this year, the UAE minister of economy said on Monday.

Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri said the UAE and its partners in the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council have adopted nearly 3,600 international specifications and would add an average 1,000 to the list every year.

"The GCC's general strategy involves the enforcement of unified specifications to support the common Gulf market and facilitate trade exchange among member states," he said in a statement.

"This is required for a full implementation of the common market, which envisages smooth flow of goods and services… by time, the national specifications in each member will be unified at the GCC level in accordance with a common timetable to be agreed on by member states."

GCC states of the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia, which control nearly 45 per cent of the world's proven oil wealth, have been locked in ambitious plans to merge their economies since they launched their political, defence and economic alliance in 1981.

In 2003, they launched the long-awaited customs union and are now heading for an EU-style monetary union following the creation of a common market on January 1. They have set 2010 as a deadline for the single currency and GCC heads of state are to decide whether to stick to the plan when they hold their annual summit in Oman just before the end of this year.

Mansouri made the statement to announce plans by the UAE to host the 31st meeting of the general assembly of the Geneva-based International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) in Dubai on October 12.

ISO, the world's largest developer and publisher of international standards, is a non-governmental organisation that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. It comprises a network of the national standards institutes of 157 countries, one member per country.

"The UAE's hosting of the conference reflects its commitment to the highest international standards and norms across various sectors and fields, as defined by ISO.

It also highlights the confidence of the organisation and its members in the country's capabilities and the successful track record of Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority in planning standards and criteria," Mansouri said.