By Neeraj Gangal
Single currency can be launched soon if members step up efforts - official.
A single Gulf Arab currency could be launched in 2015 if countries from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) speed up the process, a senior official from the bloc's secretariat said on Wednesday, according to a report.
"I personally expect the single currency to be launched in 2015, if we step up the efforts and the work of various committees," Mohammed Al Mazrooei, GCC Assistant Secretary General for Economic Affairs told Reuters, according to the Kuwait-based Al Watan Daily.
Rulers from the world's top oil exporting region endorsed the much-delayed monetary union last month despite the pullout of the UAE - the bloc's second-largest economy - and Oman, Al Watan Daily said.
Policymakers from the other four states - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain - are currently expected to set a timetable for the creation of a joint central bank, but launching the single currency is still a distant prospect, the newspaper added.
"I think it's an optimistic scenario given the slower-than-expected progress that has been achieved up to now," said John Sfakianakis, Calyon's chief economist for the Middle East. "But it's feasible if the political will is there."
According to Al Watan Daily, striking a power balance in the union remains a challenge as some smaller Gulf states resist the dominance of Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter.
"They need to be steadfast to push it forward. They have to complete various technical tasks such as establishing technical committees, synchronising statistics, facilitating capital and labour movements, deciding on the peg and then the name of the currency," Sfakianakis added.