As he prepared for a round of talks today in Abu Dhabi, the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd, was hoping for speedy resolutions on the question of a free trade agreement with Gulf nations.
A statement released by Mr Rudd’s office said he will “push for an early conclusion of the FTA when he meets with his Gulf Cooperation Council counterparts at the inaugural Australia-GCC Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue in Abu Dhabi later today.”
The Minister’s office recognises the importance of the Gulf trading bloc to Australia saying “the GCC FTA would help to consolidate other important trade and investment ties between Australia and the Gulf.”
“Merchandise trade between Australia and the GCC countries amounted to A$8.7 billion in 2010, and there are growing investment and services links that could benefit from the conclusion of the FTA.”
Mr Rudd will meet with GCC Foreign Ministers following the 118th session of the GCC Ministerial Council, held yesterday in the UAE capital, under the chairmanship of His Highness, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Foreign Minister.
Earlier today in Abu Dhabi, Mr Rudd was received by the Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, according to the Bahrain News Agency.