comprehensive cooperation with the GCC.”
Li Guofu, head of the Middle East Department at the China Institute of International Studies, said the agreement, once signed, will open up to China a market of six rich countries, which mainly rely on imports.
The GCC is a political and economic union of six Gulf Arab states — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Li said, “Chinese goods will be very competitive there, and will be transferred to neighboring regions through the bloc.”
Li Shaoxian, a senior expert in Middle East studies at Ningxia University in Yinchuan, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, said, “I expected President Xi’s visit to push forward the FTA talks, but I didn’t dare to hope they would restart immediately. ... It’s a big surprise.”
A news release issued by the Ministry of Commerce and the GCC Secretariat on Wednesday said the Chinese government and the GCC “resumed negotiations on Jan 16 and substantively concluded in principle the negotiations on trade in goods on Jan 19”.
China and the GCC have decided to “accelerate the pace of negotiations” and hold the next round in the second half of February.