A meeting will be held mid-April at the Arab League headquarters to negotiate the rules for establishing an Arab Customs Union.
The meeting is set to discuss rules that aim to achieve industrial integration between Arab countries, Saied Abdullah, First Undersecretary of the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade told state-run MENA, Saturday.
One of the necessary steps for establishing the union is the issuance of an Arab common customs law, which has already been formed, and work is underway for its enforcement, according to Abdullah.
He further mentioned that steps are expected to be taken this year involving ensuring the free movement of goods and the standardisation of traded product specifications, as well as the formation of customs tariff classification for goods.
The Arab Customs Union’s main goal is to ensure the ease of trade between Arab League members by removing trade quotas and restrictions, as well as constraints on movement of goods, individuals, capital and more. This will further open the door for the establishment of an Arab Common Market (ACM) in the foreseeable future.
The idea however is not new, as it has been “a long awaited dream”, as some media outlets have cited its existence from the 1960s.
“Arab countries have very similar economic structures (relying mostly on raw materials) and find little interest in trading with each other, and they therefore integrate with industrialised countries,” Samir Radwan, former finance minister and a current Adviser for the Supreme Planning Council of Oman, told Daily News Egypt previously, commenting on the causes of this significant delay.
During the 16th conference of Arab Businessmen and Investors held in November 2014, Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Araby declared that the Arab Customs Union will be launched in 2015. He added that the ACM will be active in six years, emphasising that the organisation has taken steps that would lead to those forthcoming goals.
To date, no tangible results have been reached and no exact decisions of the date of launch have been defined. Further, the requirements of establishing the union have yet to be fulfilled by member countries.
For instance, a unified customs tariff is crucial for the materialisation of the union; however it has not yet been reached.
During the preparatory meeting for the Arab League that kicked off at the end of March, Middle Eastern countries were called upon for forming national teams composed of relevant ministries and institutions to follow up on the Arab Customs Union’s requirements at the national level.
The General Secretariat of the Arab League was also called upon to provide technical support programmes to the national teams in order to build their capabilities through cooperating with regional and international organisations.
Arab member states were further requested to regulate their tariff structures in order to form a unified customs tariff.