Views on Integration with the GCC [Archives:2008/1117/Business & Economy]

December 3 2008

By: YemenTimes Staff
President Saleh has always reiterated that Yemen's natural place is amongst neighboring countries, specifically the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC). This notion has been emphasized time and again during the last ten years. However, regional geo-politics has motivated the GCC's secretariat to take significant measures into reducing the gap between the GCC and Yemen, through intensifying economic aid as evident from the November 2006 donors conference. Other measures include allowing Yemen's accession to the Culture and Sport dimensions of the GCC.

In a recent Interview to the official news agency (Saba), prime minister Mujawar had made several interesting comments on the Yemen-GCC relationship, he started the conversation by making the bold statement that Yemen will become a member by the GCC by 2015. Theoretically speaking, GCC countries, through its General Secretary AbdulRahman Al-Atya, has welcomed the notion of Yemen's accession of the GCC. However, he emphasized that there is a criteria for Yemen to follow in order to join the GCC, with reference to the huge economic gap between Yemen and GCC countries.

Al-Atya attributed the US$ 2.7 billion obligated by GCC countries to the development of Yemen during the donors conference as a sign that the Yemeni government needs to take its economic development seriously, and that GCC countries are willing to help the Yemeni government in that regards.

Prime Minister Mujawar has also said that there are mechanisms in place towards the 2015 planned accession, referring to the two-five year plans which were proposed initially by the GCC secretariat back in 2005. The first-five year plan aimed at rehabilitating the Yemeni economy through boosting economic growth in several key sectors. While the second five-year plan aimed at harmonizing the economic systems and procedures in order to help Yemen take advantage of the economies of the GCC and further boost its growth.

The Prime Minister also reiterated that the government is currently reforming the legislative framework of the economy in order to compliment that of the GCC, emphasizing that the government of Yemen has a partnership take on these issues in order to further enhance the trade, economic, investment, and business ties between Yemen and the GCC.

The future of Yemen and its neighbors in the GCC is joint, Yemen needs the GCC to speed its economic development, Yemen is also a large market for GCC products, not to mention that the GCC is Yemen's largest trading partner with huge potential for growth.

However, the biggest obstacle is the increasing economic gap between Yemen and the GCC, while GCC countries reap the benefits of record-high oil prices and the diversification of their economic to increase economic growth, Yemen's oil resources is depleting and population growth is becoming an increased burden on the economy. Conclusively, Yemen has to work very hard, in cooperation with the GCC, in bridging the gap towards regional integration.