The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman—represents one of the wealthiest country groupings in the world. Blessed with extensive oil and gas reserves, development and investment in the sector is substantial. The GCC countries are seeking to diversify their economic base and reinvest a substantial amount of their surplus capital in massive infrastructure projects, including hospitals, medical centres and educational institutions. Despite the current global economic slowdown and lower oil revenues, GCC governments are determined to draw down their accumulated reserves to maintain the level of these investments in order to sustain their economies. Rising levels of disposable income, government subsidization of basic necessities, and more flexible consumer and business lending practices are creating a new generation of affluent consumers influenced considerably by Western lifestyles and tastes. The GCC is also a major source of foreign investment capital: by 2020, GCC countries are expected to have over US$3.5 trillion in foreign direct investment holdings. Furthermore, the region is being positioned as a leading trading hub serving the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. Canadian businesses are well suited to engage in the substantial economic activity under way in the GCC, particularly in the infrastructure, oil and gas, agriculture and health care sectors. Canadian companies that establish commercial credibility in the region will also be in a preferential position to attract the region’s substantial investment resources.
The Government of Canada has identified the GCC as a GCS priority market—based on extensive consultation with government, academic and Canadian business and industry representatives—and has developed a comprehensive Market Plan that identifies the following sectors as offering clear market opportunities well suited to Canadian capabilities and interests in the region:
Canada-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Commercial Relations, 2005-2009 ($ Millions)
The Government of Canada will continue to monitor, assess and influence GCC bilateral trade and investment to advance Canadian interests. Officials will be reviewing trade policy and access issues, including the feasibility of additional Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) negotiations, a potential Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and an evaluation of current bilateral air treaties. Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service will continue to provide information and encourage export-ready Canadian firms to pursue opportunities in the GCC and will continue to communicate business intelligence on GCC partnership and investment opportunities, as well as promote Canadian investment opportunities to GCC investors.
Canada has a number of bilateral trade and investment policy instruments in place that are helping to facilitate and support Canadian commercial engagement in the region:
Unless otherwise stated, all data is for 2009 and expressed in Canadian dollars. All data based on latest available national statistics drawn from a variety of sources, including Statistics Canada, Export Development Canada, Bank of Canada, IMF WEO, and UNCTAD.
For further information, visit the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website or contact the Trade Commissioner Service at 1-888-306-9991.
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