Gulf Common Market moves ahead with new tracks

4 min read
A general view from the second joint meeting of the GCC Common Market Committee and a group of experts in the field of work and international relations.
  • New tracks have been launched in the Gulf Common Market to supplement the 10 current tracks. The bloc also seeks collaboration with the private players in the region
  • The "third phase" of the statistical survey was also reviewed during the meeting to assess the implementation of the GCC Common Market plans on the ground

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA — Beside the launching of new tracks in the Gulf Common Market, a strategy aimed at developing a unified Gulf strategic framework for digital transformation of the GCC region remained key focus of the recently held meeting of the Gulf Common Market.

The 2007 decision to establish the Gulf Common Market is one of the most significant milestones in the GCC countries’ process of joint economic activity, and it has a clear positive impact on all levels.

The common market, announced at the Doha Conference more than 15 years ago, aims to treat citizens of the GCC countries as residents in all member states without distinction or discrimination.

The competent Gulf authorities continue their efforts to improve the effectiveness of the common market, as the Gulf Common Market Committee held its 37th meeting in Riyadh in the presence of all representatives from the GCC countries, the General Secretariat of the Cooperation Council, representatives from the GCC countries’ national statistical centers, and representatives from the countries’ national chambers of commerce.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, the meeting on February 8, 2023, dealt with follow-up on several issues, the most important of which were decisions made by the Supreme Council of the Gulf States at its 43rd session last December regarding the implementation of the paths of the Gulf common market, and decisions made by the Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee in their meetings about the recent developments in the Gulf common market.

The meeting discussed the Gulf Common Market’s digital transformation strategy, which aims to develop a unified Gulf strategic framework for digital transformation and media promotion to highlight the benefits of Gulf citizenship, which has many goals.

The Statistical Center for the Gulf States reviewed the “third phase” of the statistical survey to assess the implementation of the GCC common market paths on the ground during the meeting. The members also explained the implementation status of the GCC common market statistical databases.

New tracks

The Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee of the Cooperation Council’s General Secretariat launched new tracks in the Gulf common market to supplement the 10 current tracks.

A general view from the GCC Common Market Committee’s 37th meeting at the headquarters of the General Secretariat held recently in Riyadh.

According to the Saudi newspaper Al-Eqtisadiah, the General Secretariat of the Cooperation Council stated last year that work is underway to implement and activate the new tracks and add them to the work plan of the Gulf Common Market Committee for the period 2022-2024.

The General Secretariat confirmed that efforts are being made to activate the Gulf Common Market in collaboration with the Gulf private sector, with periodic meetings attended by representatives from all sectors related to the member states.

The member states successfully overcame the obstacles and challenges that the market faced, which contributed to the realization of many tangible achievements for Gulf citizens.

It is worth noting that the 10 tracks include moving and relocating, working in the public and private sectors, social insurance and retirement, practicing professions and crafts, engaging in all economic, investment, and service activities, owning real estate, transferring capital, tax treatment, trading and buying shares and forming companies, education, health, and social services.

Many advantages

The Cooperation Council’s General Secretariat affirms that its members have advanced in the process of economic integration since the establishment of the free trade zone in 1983 through the launch of the customs union in early 2003. Then the Gulf common market was inaugurated in January 2008 to strengthen the bonds of cooperation and integration among the member states.

According to the General Secretariat’s official website, the Gulf common market has both political and economic goals, as it ensures the flow of goods between Gulf countries, which leads to increased competition among Gulf institutions for the benefit of the consumer, as well as contributing to regional political stability and advancing military and political cooperation along with the economic cooperation.

Among the most significant benefits for Gulf citizens is the ability to move freely between GCC countries, reside in any of them without restriction, own real estate for housing and investment purposes, engage in economic, investment, commercial, and service activities, professions, and crafts, trade and buy shares, and establish joint stock companies.

Moreover, Gulf companies are allowed to open branches in any of the other GCC countries. The company branches will be treated as national companies, with financial, investment, and commercial transactions facilitated for Gulf citizens. In addition, any governmental hospital, clinic, or medical center in any of the GCC states, and he is treated as a citizen of the state, enrolling in any of the GCC states’ government schools and institutes. It’s worth mentioning that the Gulf countries have launched an electronic “integration” platform through which their citizens can submit their complaints, suggestions, and inquiries, as well as any other observations about the GCC common market, for action and response to be taken quickly.