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Arab States

Question for Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

UIN HL4326, tabled on 21 January 2015

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to encourage tariff reductions, labour mobility, mutual recognition of university degrees, trade integration and increased exports, throughout the Arab world.

Answered on

2 February 2015

The UK is taking steps both bilaterally and in the European Union to support stronger economic ties with Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries.

The Gulf Cooperation Council suspended negotiations with the EU in 2008. However, the UK is working closely with European partners to build on existing Association Agreements (AA) in the region through the Union for the Mediterranean which brings together the EU and 15 countries of the MENA and Southern Mediterranean region. This work is an opportunity to reduce tariffs and further open up these markets for British businesses. The UK has also supported the opening of trade talks with Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt. Of these, the most advanced trade talks are with Morocco; very recently an agreement was concluded to protect Geographical Indications (GIs).

UK Trade and Investment also has offices throughout the region working with business to increase UK exports, including a Middle East and North Africa marketing hub in Dubai. The Gulf region is also one of the priorities in the Government’s strategy for international education. In this regard the Government has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Higher Education and Research with Kuwait (June 2014), and one on Mutual Recognition of Qualifications with the UAE (May 2013).

Answered by

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills