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UAE Still Backs Gulf Monetary Union, GCC Chief says | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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MANAMA (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates, which has expressed reservations over a decision to base the Gulf central bank in Saudi Arabia, was still supporting monetary union plans, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said on Sunday.

GCC Secretary-General Abdul-Rahman al-Attiyah said the secretariat was urging Gulf States to meet a year-end deadline to ratify key monetary union agreements approved by the region’s leaders in December. Bahrain had already done so, he said.

“They are supportive,” Attiyah told Reuters when asked about the UAE’s reservations over the decision to base the joint central bank in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The UAE, among the major candidates to host the central bank, said after the May 5 decision it had “reservations” but did not elaborate, leaving analysts to assume it would seek to use diplomatic clout get other concessions in the future.

“I’m confident that the UAE and all the GCC … in the integration program have been always supportive,” Attiyah said on the sidelines of a United Nations conference in Bahrain.

Gulf Arab states must ratify the monetary union deal before a Gulf monetary council, the first leg of the central bank, can start operations. They have until December 12 to enact the deal.

“We are following up with the member countries to ratify as soon as possible,” Attiyah said. “The next step is that the monetary council will begin its work … We have from now until the end of 2009.”

The monetary council will decide on a new timetable to issue the single currency after the bloc acknowledged this year it would fail to meet an initial 2010 deadline to issue common notes.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain are taking part in the European Union-like project, although Oman has opted out. The six states are also setting up a common market including a customs union.