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British-Gulf Conference Discusses Means of Enhancing Economic Partnership | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and a general view of the UK-GCC Public Private Partnership (PPP) conference. Photo by James Hanna

London- The Gulf Cooperation Council and the United Kingdom held on Wednesday the UK-GCC Public Private Partnership (PPP) Conference to implement National Transformation plans.

The conference, which is the first of its kind, aims at enhancing bilateral economic cooperation through public and private partnerships, exchange of experiences and creation of knowledge content jobs.

British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Secretary-General of the GCC Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, Bahraini Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Zayed bin Rashed al-Zayani and Omani Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Masoud al-Sunaidy agreed on the importance of benefiting from the established trade relations between the two sides to boost mutual investment.

The conference is the first major economic outcome of the first GCC-UK summit that took place in Manama, Bahrain in December 2016. It will also pave the way to the upcoming meeting for the trade and investment working group that is set to take place next July at the headquarters of the GCC Secretariat.

Under the umbrella of the conference, many ministers, senior representatives, GCC ambassadors and private sector stakeholders from both sides met to explore the opportunities of PPP in achieving the national transformation goals of the GCC member states.

On the sidelines of the conference, Zayani told Asharq Al-Awsat that Gulf States and Britain are experiencing two transitional stages.

“GCC contends with challenges of diversification from oil and creation of more jobs for its young and growing population, and the UK embarks on a new era outside of the EU.”

The Bahraini Minister noted that the GCC and the UK have a long-standing history.

“Bahrain celebrated bicentennial relations with the UK in 2016; however, trade between our two nations actually started more than 400 years ago.”

For his part, Fox said in his opening speech: “The UK consistently shows how collaboration with the private sector can lead to innovation in public sector services.”

“Today’s conference is not only an opportunity for the GCC nations to capitalize on our extensive knowledge and experience in this area, but is also a springboard for our growing future trading relationship,” Fox said.

“The UK and Gulf states share a strong and growing trade and investment relationship, and the connections that are made today between governments and business will help to shape a better future for all our nations.”

Fox explained that UK companies export over £30 billion worth of goods and services to the GCC nations every year and thousands of British companies are active across the Gulf, creating jobs and helping to deliver projects from energy expansion, to helping Qatar prepare for the 2022 World Cup.

The Department for International Trade is also offering practical support to expand the GCC-UK relationship.

Through UK Export Finance, Britain can provide up to £30 billion in support for UK companies exporting globally, and for their buyers in both the public and private sectors, Fox noted.