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United Kingdom Free Trade Deal with GCC Countries

UK Prepares for Free-Trade Deal with GCC Countries

Last Updated on July 2, 2021


The opportunity and freedom to strike global trade deals have long been cited as one of the main reasons for the UK leaving the European Union (EU).

In recent times it was also supported by Lord Edward Lister, co-chair of the UAE-UK Business council and a former Downing St chief of staff, revealing to business forums that the UK has made initial advancements towards striking free-trade deals with the Arabian Gulf countries.

Citing trade and business partnership with the UAE as unprecedented, Mr Lister, spoke to an online forum on Wednesday, 28th April 2021 and claimed that significant developments have been taking place for establishing trade ties with the GCC countries.

“There is a lot of work underway at the moment – the consultation is shortly about to start on it – on new trade arrangements into the Gulf, which will be a free-trade agreement,” he added and pointed out the involvement of the UK government in this regard.

“As the UAE reaches its 50th anniversary, the two countries’ friendship is going through a revival at the moment”, commented Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State of UAE & Chairman of ADGM and a co-chair of the business council.

Me. Al Sayegh also highlighted that the UAE and the UK have been taking leadership roles in the covid 19 vaccination drive and are optimistic of complete recovery from the pandemic with a resurgence from the social and economic issues caused by Covid-19.

The UAE Minister of State also noted saying, “This is such a pivotal year for both countries and it offers us an unprecedented opportunity for growing our trade and investment relationship.”

“We have both taken great strides in addressing the Covid crisis by vaccinating and hopefully our economies will be growing back through the investments we are making in infrastructure, technology and skills,” he commented.

It was one year ago when the UK left the EU politically and excited from the Union’s single market at the end of 2020. Since quitting, the UK wanted to forge new trade deals with potential economic partners in the world and especially with the Arabian Gulf countries providing better market access and a more conducive business and investment climate.

The former Chief of Staff aged 71, recently stepped down as the official envoy to the Gulf as he anticipated that developing circumstances of trade deals need someone else to play a bigger role and in a permanent capacity. He also sounded optimistic about the pandemic recovery and hoped for more resilient economies of the two countries with new trade and investment partnerships and business setup in Dubai.

The UAE and UK governments reached a partnership agreement in March, with Mubadala Investment Company as a strategic investment program and agreed to invest a total of 800 million pounds (USD 1.11 billion) in the British life sciences industry and stretched over the next five years.

Rebalancing the economy by adhering to some of the proven principles demonstrated by the UAE has also been a priority for London as the covid 19 pandemics has brought out some weaknesses of the British system to the surface.

“We’ve all learnt some terrible lessons from Covid,” Mr Lister remarked and also added saying, “We’ve got to have a much more resilient supply chain in place.” “The number one area there is food security and agricultural technology”, he noted emphasizing “The ‘build back better’ policy of the prime minister is a desire to increase economic production, particularly in the regions of Britain.”

Investments made jointly with a wealth fund for growth areas is a rare event for the British government as done in the Mubadala agreement in March, Mr Lister added.

He claimed that the recent partnership would unfold increased opportunities and the executive director of Mubadala’s UAE clusters, Badr Al Olama also reciprocated. As per him, this would lead to more investment opportunities and pave the path for more UAE and UK strategic investments and company formation in Dubai.

“We want to develop the new dynamic sectors such as energy transition and life sciences,” Mr Al Olama said.


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