The General Authority for Foreign Trade has announced that the Agreement on Liberalization of Trade in Services among Arab States shall enter into force on 15, Safar 1441 AH, corresponding to 14, October 2019, after the completion of the document ratification by at least three Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia that had already ratified the documents on November 1, 2018, as the first country, then Egypt on 25, March 2019, and next Jordan on 14 July 2019.
This agreement comes in accordance with Article (32) of the Convention, which stipulates that "This agreement shall take effect three months after the date of submitting the ratification documents by at least three Arab countries." This agreement witnessed the participation of ten Arab countries and is expected to be ratified by the rest of the Arab Countries.
His Excellency the Governor of the General Authority for Foreign Trade, Mr. Abdulrahman bin Ahmed Al-Harbi said that the agreement aims to liberalize the trade in services among the Arab countries through three hubs.
First, to establish a general framework for the gradual liberalization of trade in services among the Arab countries and to create a suitable environment to facilitate trade in services among them, aiming at enhancing and activating Arab economic cooperation and integration.
Second, to promote the common interests of Arab countries in the field of services, based on the mutual benefit and focusing on the balance between rights and obligations.
Third, taking into account the development conditions of each of the member States, particularly the situation of the Arab least developed countries.
This agreement reflects the belief of the Arab countries of the importance of liberalization of trade in services, in parallel with the liberalization of trade in goods, so that to achieve the objectives of the Great Arab Free Trade Zone, and to be in line with the commitments of the State members with the World Trade Organization.
The Agreement on Liberalization of Trade in Services among the Arab Countries gives the service providers in the Kingdom better access to service sector markets that have been liberalized. The commitments of this agreement exceed the WTO commitments, as far as Egypt is concerned, where liberalization has been increased in the following sectors: The Professional Service Sector, including legal, architectural, engineering and related technical services, as well as medical services, computer and related services, courier services, air transport services and Construction Services, Capital Market Services, besides Insurance Services.
The Governor of the General Authority for Foreign Trade explained that the Kingdom has been exempted from making more commitments than the ones committed within the World Trade Organization. This is after a series of negotiating rounds with the Arab countries, which started in the first quarter of 2004, since the Kingdom is considered among the few countries that made commitments in most service sectors during its accession to the WTO.
Notably, the General Authority for Foreign Trade is intending to hold a workshop for the private sector during September 2019, to familiarize service providers in the Kingdom with the service sectors in the member States, relevant to such agreement, to maximize the Kingdom's benefit from joining this agreement.