BRUSSELS: The EU and the GCC have underlined their commitment to expanding cooperation during their sixth joint business forum on Thursday in Brussels.
The Forum organized four panels to discuss climate change, energy security, the environment, and the digital transition in EU and GCC countries.
“This meeting is both welcome and timely, given the very challenging global developments we have faced, and continue to face, in 2022,” said European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis in his keynote speech on Thursday
Dombrovskis continued: “In this challenging environment, the EU is fully committed to strengthening economic ties between our two regional blocs. By developing our areas of mutual interest, by working in a more collaborative way, we can achieve real benefits.
“The EU is guided in this important work by our Communication on a ‘Strategic Partnership with the Gulf, published in May of this year. The strategic aim of this roadmap is clear: we want to broaden and deepen our cooperation with the GCC and its member countries.
“We view the Gulf as a dynamic neighboring region, and an important gateway between Europe, Asia and Africa.
The former Lativian prime minister noted that the EU and GCC account for 20 percent of the global economy, 17.5 percent of global trade, and over half of global foreign direct investment.
He emphasizes that forum discussions should focus on areas of mutual interest, such as an improved trade and investment climate, regulatory and customs cooperation, and sustainable development goals.
Dombrovskis also welcomed the economic diversification strategies of Gulf countries, lauding advancements in artificial Intelligence, biotechnology and genetic engineering to boost local production.
In February, the foreign ministers of the GCC and the EU announced a new strategic partnership and adopted a joint action program (JAP) to solidify this partnership over the next five years
Dr. Adbel Aziz Abu Hamad Aluwaisheg, Assistant Secretary General for Political and Negotiations Affairs in the GCC told the Forum that the timing was ideal to capitalize on the momentum.
“There is no denying that we are living in the shadow of the war in Ukraine, which has led to energy shortages, food insecurity and an economic slowdown that could lead to a global recession, but this is also the time to act, to deal with those repercussions,” Aluwaisheg said.
Aluwaishege proposed five priority areas for the business-to-business cooperation between the EU and GCC: energy, food security, diversification, projects that stimulate job creation and training and education for the new skills.