By Andy Sambidge
Gulf state's economic chief says region 'vital' for sustainable recovery from crisis.
GCC nations with a single market approaching $1 trillion have a vital role to play in stimulating the next cycle of global economic growth, a top Bahraini official has said.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), told the World Economic Forum (WEF) Summer Davos: “It is appropriate that we are in China, one of the new global giants along with India, to focus on Relaunching Growth. And just as these two nations have affirmed their important place in the global economy, the Gulf is emerging as a third destination vital for a transformational and sustainable recovery.
"The GCC is a single market which still enjoys enviable rates of growth and is approaching one trillion US dollars in terms of GDP – the equivalent of India. People are now talking about China, India and the GCC; global engagements should take that into account.”
He said that the GCC had a point of view that needs to be heard on significant issues, reiterating comments he made at WEF on the Middle East in May. His latest comments came during a session at the WEF Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2009 or Summer Davos in Dalian, the People’s Republic of China.
Speaking on the global economic outlook, Sheikh Mohammed said: “Reviving economic growth is a priority for us all. And we must work together to restore confidence and revitalise the global economy in a sustainable manner.
"There is much to learn from the Gulf economies and we are rightly recognised as a model for cross-border partnership. We will continue to fund new investments, especially at this difficult time for the world economy. And in due course there will be opportunities for privatisation.
“You can expect the GCC states to continue to invest in essential areas like healthcare, infrastructure, education and training – to build an attractive business environment for international companies seeking access the growing markets of the Gulf.
"We will act as a single market, where companies can operate easily across borders to access its trillion dollar potential. And we will continue to diversify, essential if we are to enjoy the security and growth afforded by a balanced economy.”
He said that while the GCC economies will increasingly reduce their dependence on oil, their strength at the heart of the world’s oil and gas riches should be treated as an opportunity to enable such growth and diversification.
The Gulf has 40 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves but only a 22 percent share of global oil production, giving considerable scope to increase market share through greater production.