Gulf Cooperation Council
The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (CCASG; Arabic: مجلس التعاون لدول الخليج العربية), also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC; مجلس التعاون الخليجي) is a political and economic union involving the six Arab states of the Persian Gulf with many economic and social objectives.
Created on May 25, 1981, the Council comprises the Persian Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The unified economic agreement between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council was signed on November 11, 1981 in Riyadh. These countries are often referred to as The GCC States.
Not all of the countries neighboring the Persian Gulf are members of the council. Iran and Iraq are currently excluded although both nations have a coastline on the Persian Gulf. The associate membership of Iraq in certain GCC-related institutions was discontinued after the invasion of Kuwait. The GCC States have announced that they support the Document of The International Compact with Iraq that was adopted at Sharm El-Sheikh on 4-5 May 2007. It calls for regional economic integration with the neighboring states but there is no prospect of Iraqi accession to the GCC.
Yemen is in negotiations for GCC membership, and hopes to join by 2016. The GCC has already approved Yemen’s accession to the GCC Standardization Authority, Gulf Organization for Industrial Consultancy, GCC Auditing and Accounting Authority, Gulf Radio and TV Authority, The GCC Council of Health Ministers, The GCC Education and Training Bureau, The GCC Council of Labor & and Social Affairs Ministers, and The Gulf Cup Football Tournament. The Council issued directives that all the necessary legal measures be taken so that Yemen would have the same rights and obligations of GCC member states in those institutions. There is, however, strong resistance to full Yemeni membership amongst most GCC states, due to the country’s poverty, large population, and different system of government.
The GCC Patent Office was approved in 1992 and established soon after.
A GCC common market was launched on January 1, 2008. The common market grants national treatment to all GCC firms and citizens in any other GCC country, and in doing so removes all barriers to cross country investment and services trade. A customs union was declared in 2003, but practical implementation has lagged behind. Indeed, shortly afterwards, Bahrain concluded a separate Free Trade Agreement with the USA, in effect cutting through the GCC’s agreement, and causing much friction.
The GCC members and Yemen are also members of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA). However, this is unlikely to significantly affect the agenda of the GCC as it has a more aggressive timetable than GAFTA and is seeking greater integration.
GCC member states
United Arab Emirates