In Riyadh today, the Ministers of Commerce of the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) concluded their 27th conference. Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Industry and Electricity Dr. Hashem bin Abdullah Yamani, who is acting Minister of Commerce, stated that the meeting was being held in a new economic era which necessitates openness to the world and integration in the multilateral commercial system. To this effect, he said, the Kingdom has issued a number of domestic regulations, including the formation of the Higher Economic Council and the establishment of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA). He went on to refer to the GCC's endeavors to realize greater integration, and the agreement on a unified customs tariff and the establishment of a GCC customs union by March 2005.
Accomplishments over the last ten years include the liberation of trade among GCC member states through tax exemption on all agricultural, livestock, industrial and natural wealth products; permission for GCC citizens to practice wholesale and retail trade in any state, to own stocks, and to freely practice the professions of accounting and engineering; the opening of consulting offices and the issue of a number of consultative commercial regulations; the establishment of a commercial arbitration center; and accreditation of a standard system for accountancy and auditing.