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Newsletter 05/2015

Chairman's Message | Establishing a GCC Free Trade Agreement


Trading partners

The total export merchandise goods and services out of Australia is A$318.5 Billion (representing 21% of GDP), whilst the import market amounts to A$328.7 Billion. With 10 active Free Trade Agreements (FTA), countries that have reciprocal trade can eliminate tariffs, alleviate border barriers, encourage investment and can address other issues such as intellectual property, e-commerce and government procurement.

As such, ABCD has been participating in renewed discussions for an FTA between Australia and the GCC that will certainly enhance the cooperation and relationship we already enjoy. It will also benefit many members, many whom I have spoken with to help inform our position.

I have now attended three FTA discussions and want to update you as to the progress being made:

- First of all, for those who have been here a while, this isn’t new. Discussions commenced in 2007 and due to priorities from both sides, they are now back on the table.

- In March 2014 the GCC decided to approve the resumption of negotiations with all countries, including Australia.

- There are clear benefits for exports as the agreement provides an opportunity to address a range of tariff and non-tariff barriers including packaging, testing etc.

- The negotiations can also address market access barriers related to services, including in the areas of construction, engineering, architecture, health care, hospitality, education and financial and professional services.

- Another market access barrier in the services sector, which also could impact on the quantum of inwards investment into the UAE, is the current 51% local ownership provisions regulating the entry of foreign companies wishing to do business in the UAE.

You can get involved – have your say

Whilst there is no fixed timeline in place for the completion of the FTA, there are some actions we can take as a business community to input into these negotiations since we are already actively working and trading in this market, so let’s make sure we put forward what is important to us.

During the next quarter, ABCD will conduct a series of member forums to discuss the types of content you would like to see in an FTA.  If you would like to participate, please register your interest to Justine at

What the committee is up to

It has been a busy four months for the ABCD committee. There are several initiatives that you may have seen already, such as the new partners programme, which allows partners of members to participate in social and networking activities tailored for them. There is also an invigorated events programme that includes CEO forums and Young Professionals Networking opportunities. A revamped approach to our brand and communications is coming soon along with a GCC link up with our Australian business council colleagues in other Gulf States.

Also stay tuned for some good news from our airline partners Qantas and Emirates along with special member benefits.

Raising your profile with ABCD membership

The growth of membership over the past 2 years is very encouraging and with 750 active members we are now one of the largest business councils in Dubai. Sponsoring ABCD and our activities is a great way to build your profile and business. We have a new sponsorship platform with a range of activities that you can get involved in to suite all budgets. 

If you are keen to see what ABCD can do for you, please contact Tanya Rabah on tel: +971 50 849 6165 or

Penny Couchman

Chair, ABCD

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