Economic Integration in the Gulf Region Does the Future Hold More Promise than the Past; Strategic Insights: v.2, issue 3 (March 2003)
Looney, Robert E.
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Interest in economic integration on the part of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries has changed considerably over time. Initially, the charter signed by Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in May 1981 was concerned primarily with strengthening the defense of the Arab Gulf region. Specifically, the main motivation behind the creation of the GCC was the threat posed to regional security by the Iran-Iraq war. Progress towards integration among the GCC states has been very slow and until fairly recently, little hope was held for forward movement in this area. Recently, however, the situation with Iraq has heightened the importance of the Union (Allen, 2003). There seems to be a growing sense among the member states that the long run economic viability and thus the security of these countries will be largely determined by their progress in reducing their heavy reliance on oil revenues. In turn, this will depend on how effectively the member countries are able to remove the many remaining hurdles in the way of setting up a customs union capable of facilitating efficient industrialization and meaningful economic diversification. This document includes an examination of the GCC's track record and of recent trends suggesting that the time may at last be ripe for economic integration among the Gulf States.
This article appeared in Strategic Insights (March 2003), v.2 no.3
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