Bahrain's Zayed Al Zayani hails 'joyous new chapter' as trade talks with UK start

Negotiations on a free trade agreement began on Friday

Bahrain's minister of industry, commerce and tourism has welcomed the start of preliminary talks on a free trade agreement with the UK.

Zayed Al Zayani is part of a delegation from the six Gulf Co-operation Council states taking part in trade talks in London as the UK seeks to bolster its position post-Brexit.

"It brings me great joy and pleasure to officially announce the official launch of FTA negotiations between GCC countries and the UK," he said.

Officials have been working on the initiative since Bahrain assumed the GCC presidency this year, he said.

Trade between the UK and GCC nations topped £30 billion ($40.83bn) last year, the British government said.

"We shall collectively embark on a new chapter, which will solidify our long-standing trade and investment co-operation and build upon the strong foundations forged over the past centuries," Mr Al Zayani said.

The talks, which started on Friday, marked the launch of what the UK government says is a "14-week consultation calling for the public and business to share their views ahead of negotiations starting in 2022".

"A trade agreement with the Gulf Co-operation Council is a huge opportunity to liberalise trade with a growing market for British business and deepen ties with a region that is vital to our strategic interests," said Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the UK's Secretary of State for International Trade.

"We want a modern, comprehensive agreement that breaks down trade barriers to a huge food and drink market and in areas like digital trade and renewable energy which will deliver well-paid jobs in all parts of the United Kingdom."

Since its exit from the EU, the UK has sought to bolster trade ties with partners including the US, Australia and countries in the Gulf.

It comes less than a month after the announcement of a UK-UAE investment partnership, in which the UAE will invest £10bn in British clean energy, technology, life sciences and infrastructure over the next five years.

Updated: October 9th 2021, 12:48 PM