The UAE is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In 1981, the GCC issued the Unified Economic Agreement, a plan for complete economic integration among the six member states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman).
Though, there was no time schedule to implement this agreement then, provisions to this agreement has started lately.
Under the agreement, all agricultural, animal, industrial, and natural resource products from member states are exempt from duties and other charges when traded among member states. To qualify as a GCC national product, the value added in a GCC member state must not be less than 40 percent of the final value and produced in a factory with at least 51 percent local ownership and licensed by the respective Ministry of Finance and Industry. All intra-GCC shipments claiming this exemption must be accompanied by a duly authenticated certificate of origin.
The GCC has been conducting talks with the European Community on the subject of establishing a free trade agreement between the respective blocks for a number of years, but so far with little progress. The GCC also is part of the Great Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA).
The UAE was a member of GATT - the precursor of the World Trade Organization (WTO) - and was grand fathered into the WTO when it was established in 1995. Although the WTO prohibits discrimination in investments or shareholding between nationals and non-nationals, the UAE has been granted certain exemptions for its financial services, telecommunications, and other sectors. Nevertheless, WTO agreements may have a direct impact in the future on domestic services such as insurance, banking, property, brokerage, investment, construction, many of which will need to improve performance to be able to compete globally.