The GCC is to hold its fourth petrochemical conference in Qatar on 21- 23 November. The conference will bring together GCC officials, consumers, banks and finance companies to discuss the implications of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) for the industry.

The GCC states control more than 40 per cent of the world’s oil resources, but contribute only 4 per cent of the world’s petrochemical output. GCC officials blame protectionism for the lack of growth in the industry.

The GCC has been negotiating with the EU for more than eight years about a free trade agreement encompassing petrochemicals, but EU fears of cheaper Arab imports damaging its own industry have hindered progress.

GCC states need to spend $9,000 million on new petrochemicals projects by 2000, according to the Al-Khobar based Arab Petroleum Investment Corporation (Apicorp). If obstacles to GCC exports are removed, total investment could exceed $21,000 million by 2010.