Gulf Arab states 'keen for trade deal with post-Brexit UK'

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A number of Gulf Arab states have shown a willingness to agree a trade deal with the UK once it leaves the European Union.

Several Gulf Arab states are keen to secure an early deal on free trade with the UK after it leaves the European Union, according to a report.

A number of officials have confirmed to Reuters that steps are already being taken to make sure that Britain is able to trade freely with key Gulf economies as soon as possible after Brexit.

Qatari finance minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi discussed a partial draft of a free trade deal with British chancellor Philip Hammond in December, according to an anonymous representative of the country.

The official added that a "signature-ready" deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council - which includes Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman - may also be prepared.

Another Gulf official said: "A free trade agreement with the UK ... This is something we would like to encourage and support."

The British government will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to formally commence the two-year process of leaving the EU this week. The country cannot formally sign any trade agreements while it remains an EU member, but the government is keen to start preparatory work now so any deals can be concluded as soon as possible after it leaves.