Officials in China and the Gulf region have confirmed that plans are in place to introduce a new free trade agreement (FTA) this year.
The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) has put out a joint statement with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce confirming they have substantively concluded in principle the negotiations on trade in goods, following a resumption of their FTA talks in recent days.
Moreover, the negotiation process is now set to be accelerated, with the next round of talks to be held in the second half of February. The aim will now be to ensure the agreement is established as soon as possible.
Chinese commerce minister Gao Hucheng said: "It is a major move by the GCC to strengthen the strategic cooperative partnership with China, and also an important decision to further boost the all-round cooperation between the two sides."
China and the GCC began FTA talks in July 2004, but the process was suspended in 2009, despite large parts of the framework for the deal having been agreed.
The GCC halted all ongoing FTA talks with 17 countries and regional organisations around that time due to changes in the international market, but it is now looking to establish international links once again.