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AACCI FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSION: Support for a resumption of trade talks for an Australia-GCC Free Trade Agreement

February 11 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

With the recent normalisation of GCC relations between Qatar and the five other Gulf States – United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain, this very positive development for the region indicates that a resumption of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations would be worthy consideration.  This is an especially topical discussion given the current trade climate with China along with the significant progress in Arab-Israel relations which also gives rise to the value of renewed trade negotiations with the region.

Hosted by Jessica Swann, AACCI National Secretariat and former ABC broadcaster, we welcome our AACCI members to join our focus group, Australia-GCC FTA to be held at 10.30am -12pm AEDT (Melbourne time) on Thursday 11 February.

AACCI plays an important role in strengthening Australian trade and investment relations in the MENA region.  Whilst Australia navigates trade tensions with China, the MENA region in contrast, presents Australia with a great opportunity to develop stronger trade ties.  One of AACCI’s key aims for 2021 is to focus on establishing new relationships and nurturing existing ones for the benefit of our members and the Australia – MENA trade and investment relationship more broadly.

It is also our aim to provide essential insights and support to the Australian Government through advocacy. In doing so, AACCI is supporting Australian interests and our members needs by expanding trade and economic relations.  We value our members expertise and insights and therefore, together we can provide valuable input to government and build greater connectivity with the region.

Australia’s FTA negotiations with the GCC commenced in July 2007. Four rounds of GCC-Australia FTA negotiations were held, with the last held in June 2009.  Negotiations were subsequently put on hold while the GCC conducted a review of its FTA policies. No recommencement of negotiations has occurred, with no progress expected on an FTA while the intra-Gulf tensions, which commenced in June 2017, remained unresolved. 

Terms of Reference for Discussion:
AACCI is in a strong position to provide our new Federal Trade Minister the Hon Dan Tehan with important trade and investment insights to support a resumption of Australia-GCC FTA talks.  As such, we are keen to hear from our members on this, and specifically those who have faced or are facing barriers to the GCC market.  This includes companies that are not exporting now but are intending to enter the market.  Some examples of the common barriers historically, of which will inform the terms of reference for our focus group discussion are as follows:

  • tariffs, eg duties imposed on items at borders which can add significant price point increases in the market
  • food safety and animal/plant quarantine requirements
  • technical barriers to trade such as regulations or officially endorsed standards, import licensing, customs or transparency problems
  • restrictions on individuals for example difficulties with recognising qualifications or obtaining business visas, requirements to obtain local licenses
  • financial or business restrictions for example restrictions on supplying services from Australia (including via internet), difficulties in competing with local firms who benefit from government preferences, potential of challenges in navigating complex local regulations
  • restrictions on investors for example where there may have been or currently are requirements to operate in JVs with local partners

Given the national focus on diversification due to the China trade dispute and the importance of mitigating the fall out to the Australian economy, industry and exporters, we also welcome the experiences of our members who have been impacted by this and who are seeking ways to explore new MENA market opportunities.

Details to register:
Thursday 11 February
10.30am – 12noon AEDT
To register please follow this link

We look forward to your attendance at our AACCI focus group and welcoming and learning from your contributions to this important area of Australian international trade and investment.

If you would like to become an AACCI Member, you can find out more by following this link.

Warm regards,

Jessica Swann
Company Secretary
National Secretariat
Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry



February 11
10:30 am - 12:00 pm