(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Senior officials from the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) began a meeting in Brussels Tuesday to strengthen the economic cooperation between the two regional blocs.
Istven Jakab, head of the EU side at the meeting, told Kuwait news agency (KUNA) that the 27-member European bloc and the 6-member GCC have a regular economic dialogue and this was the fourth such meeting.
"When you have the fourth meting it means we are building the tradition of this Dialogue and discussing our economic cooperation, our economic prospects and what is happening in the EU and GCC," said Jakab, who is the head of the of trade unit in the European Commission.
"We are discussing the economic outlook of the EU and GCC, as well as sovereign wealth funds, banking reform," he said.
"The GCC is important for EU. It is our tenth export partner and we want to share our expertise and our knowledge to help the GCC in its integration process," said Jakab.
He added that the issue of the EU-GCC Free trade Agreement (FTA) will not be discussed in today's meeting.
EU-GCC Negotiations on the FTA were suspended in 2008.
On his part, Adnan Al Kandari, director of economic negotiations department and head of the Kuwait negotiating team in the finance ministry, told KUNA that the GCC in today's dialogue will call on the EU to continue its preferential trade dealing with the GCC.
The EU has decided to end the system of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for 89 countreis including the GCC from January, 2014.
The GCC wants the EU to take into consideration more than one measurements to decide on the ending or not of the GSP.
They are only taking the GDP or per capita income as the base to lift the GSP or not, he noted.
"Till we conclude the FTA we need this system for our petro-chemical products because they will be taxed if the GSP is ended," explained Al Kandari.
He said the FTA will not be discussed in today's meeting but most probably will be raised during the next EU-GCC joint cooperation dialogue.
The two sides will also discuss the importance of cooperation between the Central banks in the two regions and talk about the ways the EU is dealing to overcome its economic crisis.
Al-Kandari said the GCC is concerned about the current economic crisis in Europe and now in Cyprus but added that we are not effected much because we have different systems of bankings, etc.
He noted there are some very little Gulf investments in Cyprus and added that "we are learning from what the EU is doing to solve this crisis." He said he has invited EU countries to participate in the development projects in Kuwait.
"The economic relations are improving and we wish to continue this Diaiogue, " he stressed.
The Joint Action Plan between the EU and the GCC ends in 2013 and they are trying to renew it till 2016, he added.
On his part, Hamad Ali Al Hazeem, Counsellor at the Kuwait foreign Ministry, told KUNA that Kuwait and the GCC consider the EU as an important economic partner and stressed that this kind of dialogue is important for both sides.
He said they want to listen from the European side how they are coping and dealing with the current economic crisis in Europe and how we can cooperate in order to overcome it.