04 October 2022: His Excellency Mohamed Bin Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, yesterday headed the UAE delegation participating in the 117th meeting of the GCC Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee. The meeting took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and sought to discuss the progress of work on GCC economic integration, as well as a number of topics related to the Customs Union and the GCC Common Market.

The UAE delegation included His Excellency Ahmad Abdullah Bin Lahej Alfalasi, Director General of the Federal Customs Authority; Mr. Ali Abdullah Sharafi, Assistant Undersecretary of the International Financial Relationship Sector at the Ministry of Finance; Mr. Ibrahim Al Jarwan, Director of the GCC Affairs Department at the Ministry of Finance; and Mr. Hamad Al Zaabi, Director of the Office of His Excellency Minister of State for Financial Affairs. In attendance also were their Excellencies, the Ministers of Finance of the GCC countries, and the Secretary General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.

His Excellency Mohamed Bin Hadi Al Hussaini emphasised the UAE’s keenness to bolster cooperation with the Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council in topics related to the GCC economic integration. “The periodic meetings held by the GCC Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee serve as a vital platform to deliberate the challenges facing the economic sectors in the GCC countries and work to achieve GCC economic integration, to meet the aspirations of the GCC leaders and their peoples,” His Excellency stated.

The meeting sought to discuss the outcomes of the 79th meeting of the Governors of Central Banks of the GCC and the outcomes of the 11th meeting of Committee of Heads and Directors of Tax Administrations in GCC States. It also deliberated the outcomes of 29th meeting of the GCC Customs Union Authority, and the results of the first meeting of the Board of Directors of the GCC Customs Union Authority. Furthermore, the meeting discussed the report of the Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council on the remaining steps for establishing the Customs Union, as well as the full implementation of the tracks of the GCC Common Market according to a specific timeline before the end of 2024. That, in addition to the results of the 36th meeting of the GCC Common Market Committee and the results of the fourth meeting of the small group of ministries of finance to discuss the G20 Finance Track initiatives.

During the meeting, their Excellencies the Ministers of Finance also reviewed the updates on signing the agreement to link the payment systems of the GCC countries, and the programme related to achieving economic unity among the GCC countries by 2025.

On the sidelines of the meeting, the finance ministers and central bank governors of the GCC countries met with Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

During the meeting, His Excellency Al Hussaini previewed the UAE’S Economic Policy, COVID-19 strategy, initiatives, plans and recovery, and provided an overview of climate change and energy security, partnerships between the public and private sector, and the UAE’s progress in achieving gender equality. “This meeting is particularly important to discuss ways and find solutions to face global challenges, such as high inflation, tightening of global economic conditions, away from quantitative easing,” His Excellency said.

On the UAE’S Economic Policy, COVID-19 strategy, initiatives, plans and recovery, His Excellency noted that the global economy remains fragile and must rise above several challenges. The disrupted global supply chain due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, and high energy prices have pushed global inflation to historical levels, hence exacerbating vulnerabilities in emerging and developing economies. Furthermore, His Excellency mentioned that international coordination is needed to mitigate current risks’ impacts and reduce global imbalances.

His Excellency said: “The UAE Government spared no effort to weather the impact of COVID-19 through various economic support schemes catering to corporates, SMEs, and financial institutions. Moreover, Post COVID-19 plans and initiatives have been introduced to expedite recovery.”

His Excellency also pointed that in June 2022, the UAE introduced an inflation targeted support programme to selected individuals affected from the rising in costs, in order to improve their quality of life in light of the high prices and inflation around the world. His Excellency also mentioned that the UAE Cabinet approved the issuance of up to AED 45 billion in local debt with the main objective of establishing an AED denominated yield curve, in order to diversify sources of funding.

On climate change and energy security, His Excellency highlighted that the UAE’s efforts in the field of energy aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services. This is in addition to increasing substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency. His Excellency also reaffirmed the UAE’s commitment to support international efforts to mitigate climate change.

When he tackled the “partnerships between the public and private sector” issue, His Excellency Al Hussaini mentioned that partnerships, particularly between the public and private sector, remain essential to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth. H.E. also noted that enhancing the role of the private sector in driving growth, creating jobs, and diversifying economy has been a priority for UAE in the past few years.

On UAE Gender Balance Strategy, H.E. indicated that the UAE has made enormous progress in achieving gender equality and reducing the gender gap across all levels. The UAE was ranked 1st regionally and 18th globally in the Gender Inequality Index (GII) of the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report 2020. “We are keen to enhance the leading role of Emirati women in the country’s inclusive growth as women are integral to our strategic and developmental agenda. Achieving sustainable and inclusive economic prosperity is only possible because of women’s participation in the workforce,” H.E. stated.

On the sidelines of their annual meeting, their Excellencies the GCC finance ministers attended a high-level seminar entitled “Working Together to Tackle Food Insecurity.” Also, during the meeting, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the International Monetary Fund to establish an IMF regional office in Saudi Arabia.

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