Foreign secretary Liz Truss is in the Gulf today using her trade experience to push for closer economic ties with the region.
The former international trade minister was in Saudi Arabia this morning for talks before flying to Qatar to meet His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
Trade with the Gulf is already worth £30bn and the discussions come just weeks after preparations got under way for a trade deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), reports the Express.
Security and business
Truss said: “Closer security and economic ties with Gulf allies will help us deliver jobs and opportunities for people back in the UK and ensure as friends and partners that we are operating from a position of strength in the world.”
As previously covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update, Britain is undertaking a 14-week consultation on what businesses would like to see in a trade deal with the Gulf, before negotiations start next year.
It is hoped a free trade deal will help increase investment opportunities for industries such as digital trade, services and green growth.
Over £597million of British food and drink exports headed to GCC countries last year, including lamb, biscuits and chocolate.
Arab News reports that Truss will launch a UK-Qatari strategic dialogue, which will form the basis for deeper bilateral cooperation on security, development, trade and investment.
“The foreign secretary sees both Saudi Arabia and Qatar as important partners in deepening the UK’s economic, technology and security and defence ties with friends and allies around the world,” a government statement said.