Gulf Arab states aim to bring a long-awaited customs unification into effect in 2015 as they vie to remove hurdles that delayed the union launched eight years ago, an Emirati minister said.
"What we have agreed upon is that in the next three year, meaning 2011 to 2014, we should complete all the pending issues in regard to the customs union," said the State minister of Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid al-Tayer.
"We hope to complete that by the end of 2014 and that it becomes effective January 1st, 2015," he told reporters in Abu Dhabi after a meeting of finance ministers in the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The United Arab Emirates currently holds the rotating presidency of the GCC.
The customs union was launched at the start of 2003 for a three-year transition period. But issues of revenues, dumping and protectionism repeatedly delayed its full implementation.
In September, the energy-rich bloc decided to postpone implementation of the customs union in the face of disagreement over the sharing of tariff revenues and problems meeting World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
But the council agreed on establishing an electronic clearing mechanism for settling customs duties between the GCC states Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.