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Thursday, 26-October-2006
Khaleej News Google Alerts - DUBAI — The argument in favour of making Yemen part of the GCC economic bloc in the shortest time frame is gaining momentum within Yemen and across the GCC countries.
Although there have been divergent opinions among economists and politicians about the efficacy of such a move, in the recent months there has been a big push towards preparing the Yemeni economy to match the requirements of joining the GCC Customs Union, GCC Common Market and probably the GCC Monetary Union within a time frame of 8 to 10 years.
The efforts are clearly evident in the recent moves by multilateral lending agencies and regional think-tanks in addressing the issue directly to all concerned in the region.
In association with Yemeni Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center will hold a symposium on November 8 - 9 to establish the mechanisms required for Yemen’s admission to Gulf Cooperation Council. The event is scheduled to take place in Dubai in the presence of senior officials from Gulf council and Yemen plus researchers and specialised experts in foreign affairs.
“The main objective of the symposium is to manifest the importance of historical and cultural relations between Yemen and GCC member states and discuss strategic, security and political issues and developments associating with Yemen’s GCC entry in a coming stage,” said the Head of the Gulf Research Centre, Abdulaziz bin Othman bin Saqr.
The symposium is due to concentrate on analysing the requirements and mechanisms of Yemen’s development qualification, the size of funding needs and the nature of joint economic, political and strategic achievements. Additionally, the symposium is to discuss a future vision for the course of Yemen’s partnership with GCC member states.
Yemen, on its part is also set to make serious efforts to make its economy compatible for a potential integration with its six oil rich neighbours. The big issue before Yemen to join the GCC club is to bring some order to its chaotic economy.
According to the 2006 Index of Economic Freedom, Yemen's top income tax rate is 35 per cent. The top corporate tax rate is also 35 per cent and the government expenditures as a share of GDP increased 4.8 percentage points to 38.2 per cent last year. From 1995 to 2004, based on data from the IMF's 2005 World Economic Outlook, Yemen's weighted average annual rate of inflation was 12.03 per cent, up from the 11.02 per cent from 1994 to 2003 reported in the 2005 Index. As a result, Yemen's monetary policy score is 1 point worse this year.
Despite such huge challenges, Yemen has been vying for formal GCC status for several years, and has some partial observer status on some committees, giving the impression, for a while anyway, that full membership may not be far off.
The first of a series of serious efforts to get the plan off the ground will take place in London on November 15-16 where a group of international donors and Yemeni government will put together a $40 billion plan to address some of the key economic issues such as fiscal deficit, budget deficit and domestic inflation.
The British government will host a conference in London bringing together donors from the United States, Japan, and members of the European Union particularly, Britain, France, Germany, and Holland. The World Bank and the Yemeni government will co-chair the meetings, which will be sponsored by the GCC countries. The conference will discuss the five-year plan that will be presented by the government of Yemen, and the strategy for achieving economic growth that will qualify Yemen to join GCC.
“We hope they (the international donors) will help Yemen to implement and achieve the goals which are clearly formulated in the plan, and will have to look at the various areas in which they can best contribute,” Yemeni Foreign Minister, Abu Bakr Al Qirbi was quoted by the Yemen Observer on Yemen's plans to join the GCC.

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