At the second ASEAN-GCC ministerial meeting at the Sentosa Golf Club on June 1, the ministers of ASEAN and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreed on a two-year action plan to enhance relations between the two regions. The plan outlines measures for cooperation in various areas including trade and investment, economic and development cooperation, education, culture, and information.
With the trade volume between the ASEAN and the Gulf rising fivefold over the past seven years, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said that the ultimate goal of the cooperation is a Free Trade Agreement between the regions. He said, “eventually, we are aiming for an FTA, but at this point we cannot specify the date. We need to explore what needs to be improved and what needs to be fulfilled on both sides for us to have the FTA.”
By the end of the meeting, optimism abounded for strong future relations. Kuwait's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Dr Mohammed Al-Sabah Al-Salim Al-Sabah remarked that the meeting was “quite a strong start for the cooperation between the two trading blocs,” and that there is a “tremendous complementarity between the two regions and this is where we thought we should exploit the complementarities and the differences in structure for the benefit of our two societies.”
Asean, Gulf nations adopt plan [Straits Times, 1 June 2010]
ASEAN, GCC ministers adopt action plan to enhance ties [Channel NewsAsia, 1 June 2010]