The list of investment activities that nationals of the Gulf Co-operation Council member states are not allowed to carry out, known as ‘negative economic activities’, has been cut down to four non-major and marginal ones.
In a meeting with its strategic partners in the Gulf market, the UAE Ministry of Finance called for the need to remove the negative list to make the common market a success.
Khalid Al Bustani, Executive Director of International Relations and Organisations Sector of the Ministry of Finance, told Emirates Business on the sidelines of the meeting that the “common Gulf market has taken very big steps forward, and all important economic activities, such as retail, wholesale, ownership of real estate property, transfer of capitals, exchange and purchase of shares and the establishment of companies, have been opened to nationals of the GCC”.
Al Bustani said GCC nationals are equal when it comes to practising economic activities in the fields of health and education, and they receive health services equally. He said the cultural sensibilities of some GCC member states do not allow activities such as the opening of cinemas or theatres or Hajj and Omrah agencies. For instance, such activities are not allowed in Saudi Arabia.
The official said that though two years have lapsed after the establishment of the common market, some Gulf nationals are not aware of its big investment advantages, such as the right to establish projects in various economic fields.
“There are big investment opportunities for GCC nationals in the member states, but they have not been exploited yet. The UAE offers Gulf investors very important investment opportunities,” said Al Bustani.
One of the reasons why investment opportunities are not exploited, he said, is that the administrators of some economic departments of GCC member states still stick to decisions and bills that have been cancelled or replaced by new ones. Al Bustani said the Ministry of Finance has started co-ordinating with its strategic partners in the common market in the UAE such as the Ministry of Interior, chambers of commerce and industry, transport and customs to look into the difficulties they face, especially those that curb the effectiveness of the common market.
Such co-ordination will result from implementation of the Cabinet resolution that assigned the Ministry of Finance the task of keeping track of progress in the common Gulf market, he said.
The ministry, he said, recently established a new system to receive complaints by UAE investors. There is also a common market e-mail through which complaints are received. Asked about the accumulation of trucks on the UAE-Saudi border, Al Bustani said that the problem has been resolved with the Saudis.