The European Union negotiates free trade agreements on behalf of all its member states, with member states having granted the EU “exclusive competence” to conclude trade agreements. Nevertheless, the governments of the Member States monitor each stage of the process (through the Council of the European Union, whose members are national ministers of each national government). The chapter on trade in goods also contains provisions on trade policy measures, such as anti-dumping and safeguard measures. Indeed, the separation of the EU from geopolitical and geoeconomic considerations over the past 50 years has been a major source of friction between the EU and the US, given that the Americans generally view trade as a legitimate part of an integrated geostrategic toolbox. This difference in approach has emerged recently in the EU-US dispute over the Iran nuclear deal: regardless of security considerations in the Middle East, the EU insists that it has the right to continue to act with Iran and strives to exercise this right. President Donald Trump has also repeatedly criticized Germany for importing gas from Russia. The six member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) are a commercially important region and were the EU`s fourth largest export market in 2016. The GCC countries have established their own customs unions and are working to complete a single market. It is clear that a free trade agreement between the EU and the GCC would improve bilateral economic cooperation and increase trade flows in both directions. It would also consolidate the entire GCC into an investment agreement. At present, each GCC country has several bilateral investment agreements with individual EU countries, creating the “spaghetti bowl” phenomenon. The scope of the Free Trade Agreement covers trade in goods (industrial and processed agricultural products, fish and other seafood), trade in services, public procurement and competition. With regard to investment and intellectual property rights, the parties agreed to conduct negotiations on these issues after the entry into force of the agreement.
Basic agricultural products are covered by bilateral agricultural agreements, which are part of the instruments for the creation of the free trade area between the parties. Guaranteeing a free trade agreement with the EU would be a success for the GCC, especially in the current context of protectionism and isolationism. . . .