The highly anticipated UK-Gulf Co-operation Council meeting in London has been shelved as of now due to the ongoing crisis in the region.
It was promised by Theresa May, to host the first meeting of the GCC nations outside the Gulf as part of a symbolic show of UK’s effort to strengthen trade and security with the regional bloc. The situation in the region has not improved and there are chances that it can get worse.
Both the parties are trading blows on each other at every given opportunity, this could put British’s plan to set up free trade deals to supplement the loss of EU trade post-Brexit, in doubt.
In 2016, UK trade with GCC states stood at £30bn, higher than its exports to China and more than double those to India. The international trade secretary, Liam Fox, has hailed the Gulf as one of the areas in which British trade could be quickly expanded; he has identified 31 big-ticket items ranging from oil and gas to infrastructure, life sciences, the creative industries and defence.
A working group has already been formed based on the Singapore-GCC model. The trade talks is vital for British as it would be difficult to strike a deal individually with each Arab state.
It should be noted that the US and UK diplomats rushed to the region in a bid to resolve the crisis.
The four Arab states severed ties with Qatar in June after accusing it of supporting terrorism, however, all such allegations were denied by Qatar immediately.