GCC investors are eyeing opportunities to develop the region's long-standing ties with the UK
- As one of the UK’s largest export markets, the GCC states are likely to engage in bilateral and multilateral discussions on free trade agreements.
- The bright spots for trade and investment synergies remain rooted at the nexus of British competitive advantages and the ambitious development strategies of the GCC countries.
With the UK's final exit from the European Union looming, Tahseen Consulting's COO Wes Schwalje recently spoke to Alicia Buller at Arabian Business to discuss the opportunities and challenges Brexit will present to strengthen the historic ties between the GCC and UK. You can read the full article here.
What opportunities could Brexit present for strengthening the UK-GCC relationship?
The European Union has been trying to get a free trade agreement signed with the GCC since 1990 with little progress. Bilateral discussions as well as multilateral GCC-wide discussions are progressing on free trade agreements which might see the UK outmanoeuvre its European neighbors.
If there is agreement on a UK free trade agreement with the GCC as a trade bloc or a series of bilateral agreements is signed, we are likely to see a significant increase in trade as well as in investment between the UK and GCC.
In many ways, Britain’s Brexiteers might view such a win as a prime example of the type of flexibility, adaptability, and control needed to make Britain great again. The agreement might also be used a leverage on European negotiations.
How would a no-deal with Europe affect the potential for GCC relations?
There is significant interest by the UK to make up for potential trade losses with the Europe Union due to a potential a no-deal with Europe.
The UK will be looking to forge trade deals globally with regions with which the UK has strong geopolitical ties.
Since the GCC is one of the UK’s largest export markets, bilateral discussions as well as multilateral GCC-wide discussions on free trade agreements will certainly be accelerated in the event of a breakdown in talks with Europe.
What industry areas offer particular opportunity for cross-regional collaboration and investment between Britain and the Gulf?
The bright spots for mutual trade and investment synergies remain rooted at the nexus of British competitive advantages and the ambitious development strategies of the GCC countries. The intersections include healthcare, renewable energy, financial services, transportation, tourism, education, and smart manufacturing and autonomous technologies.
How might the ongoing COVID pandemic impact the potential for growing trade relations between the UK and the GCC?
One area of increasing synergy that has been driven by Coronavirus tailwinds in enhanced cooperation between London’s well established FinTech hub and emerging GCC FinTech hubs.
With the acceleration of trends towards contactless payments and online shopping globally, the UK’s leadership in FinTech offers some very interesting lessons for countries which had to make the transition to digital payments literally overnight.
For example, Simon Penney, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and the Department for International Trade took part in a Virtual UK-KSA Fintech Week event. Fintech will feature as a growing bilateral trade and investment focus which is likely to significantly increase a as result of this relationship being firmed up in mutual adversity.