GCC should lead Arab integration

13 September 2011

Progress on Morocco and Jordan’s accession to the GCC bloc is a way forward for greater Arab cooperation

The region’s remaining monarchs have come together to form a bond to protect their dynasties amid the Arab uprisings.

Talk of Morocco and Jordan’s accession to the GCC began once again earlier this year, but unlike before, the talks this time round have become more serious.

On 11 September, GCC foreign ministers and their Jordanian and Moroccan counterparts met in Jeddah to develop a five-year economic plan for both countries and to discuss a strategy to incorporate the two kingdoms in a bid to enhance partnership and association.

Prior to the protests in Egypt, the foreign ministers of the Arab world met at the Arab Economic Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss strategies for implementing a pan-Arab trade council.

This has been a long-standing notion, but little has been done to achieve it. With Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya and Yemen still in turmoil, there is little hope left.

Such partnerships would increase inter-regional trade. Travel without the need for visas as in the EU would also increase tourism. Loosening trade restrictions is likely to benefit the region in its entirety if a pan-Arab council is created, and in the current situation, would help the countries suffering from the political unrest.

The GCC would do better to lead the way in establishing a pan-Arab council, to enable the region to return to stability.

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