GCC officials are to meet in Jeddah on 28-29 March to resume talks on a proposed customs union, a key element in creating a GCC common market.

The customs union is one of the most thorny issues in the process of GCC economic integration. Tariffs vary widely and some GCC states are demanding compensation for expected losses from lowering their tariffs, which they say provide protection for growing local industries.

A compromise solution, to establish a fund for tariff revenues to be distributed proportionately among GCC states, has made headway in negotiations, GCC officials say. There are also proposals to exempt some products from the unified tariffs to retain protection, they add.