Press releases

On 18 May 2022, the European Union unveiled a new, strategic partnership with the Arabian Gulf aimed at strengthening the block’s cooperation with the GCC and its member countries

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 23 May 2022 – The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), the voice of the chemical and petrochemical industry in the Arabian Gulf, today welcomed the European Union’s announcement to adopt a strategic partnership with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and its member states in the areas of energy security and trade.

The joint communication, unveiled by the EU on 18 May 2022, further addresses a series of key policy areas and presents concrete proposals to strengthen EU-GCC cooperation on the green transition, climate change, trade, economic diversification, regional stability and global security, among others.

GPCA welcomes the opportunity for closer cooperation between the GCC states and the EU as it would not only provide significant socio-economic benefits for the people and consumers of both regions, but it would also advance their efforts to solve key sustainability challenges, innovate new solutions and develop local human capital.

The announcement aligns closely with GPCA’s position on strengthening bilateral trade with Europe by removing trade barriers and tariffs. After Asia, Western Europe is the GCC’s second largest export partner for chemicals and petrochemicals, with 6.7 million tons exported in 2020[1].

Since its inception in 2006, GPCA has consistently advocated for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two regions. The GCC is currently signatory to an FTA with the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), comprising Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, but a wider FTA with the EU is yet to be reached[2].

In the current landscape, geopolitical crises, energy supply challenges and increased trade tensions continue to underline the importance of forming strategic partnerships with a reliable, long-term partner. GPCA believes that an FTA, whether general or sectoral, would help to maximize potential economic and trade benefits to both regions.

Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA, commented: “Last week’s announcement by the EU signaling its intent to strengthen cooperation with the GCC states is a welcome move for both parties, as it will help to contribute to energy security for the EU member states, secure a diversified source of energy at a competitive price, and provide feedstock supply for key industries on the European continent. GPCA believes that the GCC states would be the ideal energy and raw material partner for the EU block in the long term, building on many decades of cooperation between the two regions.”

He added: “Beyond energy, strategic partnerships and investments in the field of climate change, digitalization, human capital development, and research and innovation would provide an important platform to enable the transition towards a more a sustainable future. The GCC region with its vast natural reserves – both hydrocarbon and renewable – combined with the EU’s human capital and knowhow, amassed over decades of science and development, will result in a stronger and more resilient relationship between the two economic areas.”

[1] GPCA Facts and Figures 2020

[2] Note to editors: An FTA with the EU was first tabled in 1990 but after exhaustive and unproductive rounds of negotiations, the GCC pulled out, unilaterally, in 2008.