Navigating Gulf Trade Relations with Qatar

With Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt thawing relations with Qatar, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are to end the Qatar boycott through the AlUla GCC Summit Declaration signed on January 5th, 2021. The now-terminated boycott has severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar since 2017. The new Declaration will bolster not only GCC-Qatari relations, but Gulf relations at large. While short and vague, the Declaration serves to outline broad goals for a long term cooperation plan. Specifically, the declaration calls for reintegration of customs criteria under the Customs Union and the Common Gulf Market. This will increase the liberalization of work capability by softening barriers to international work for GCC member countries’ citizens between other GCC countries and ensure uniform customs criteria for international actors involved in trade with the Gulf countries.  

Key features of the Declaration include: 

Gulf Railway Network Construction: 

As well as equal access to education and health care, the construction of the Gulf railway network, the creation of food and water security systems, and continuing to encourage joint projects that localize investment in the Gulf.” 


Strengthening governance, transparency, accountability, integrity, and anti-corruption mechanisms through Joint-Gulf action and in all entities of the GCC, including its specialized bureaus. As well as benefiting from the agreements of the G20 framework and the “Riyadh Initiative” pertaining to cooperation in investigations of cross-border corruption and the prosecution of the perpetrators in order to mitigate the impact corruption has on economic growth, sustainable development, and mutual trust between governments and their peoples.“ 

Customs Integration: 

 “Completing the requirements for the Customs Union and the Common Gulf Market. This includes achieving full economic citizenship that grants citizens of GCC countries the freedom to work, move and relocate, and invest in the Member States. 

Security Cooperation: 

“Stemming from the Joint-Defense Agreement and the principle of collective security for GCC countries: Further military integration among GCC countries under the supervision of the Joint-Defense Council, the Supreme Military Committee, and the unified military leadership of the GCC, to face emerging challenges.” 

As of January 1st 2002, Common Customs Law was implemented by all Member States of the GCC. With the GCC trade embargo on Qatar ceasing, the international trade landscape in the Gulf is slated to shift, to the benefit of some businesses and the detriment of others. On January 10th of this year, Saudi Customs received its first arrivals from Qatar, marking a new season of more liberalized trade in the Gulf region under unified Common Customs Law. 

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