Arab leaders agree on FTA conditions


Arab leaders pledged to remove obstacles to finalizing a free-trade zone this year and agreed to facilitate capital flows as they wrapped up an economic summit in Riyadh on Tuesday.

“We stress our determination to complete all the prerequisites of (forming) the free-trade area before the end of this year,” Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said at the end of the third Arab Economic and Social Summit. The leaders, he added, were determined to clear obstacles to “achieve the Arab customs union fully by 2015.”

Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said officials working to facilitate a customs union were struggling to sort out rules on the origin of goods, telling reporters, “We still have problems with the issue of country of origin . . . in order to establish which goods are from Arab countries and the percentage of foreign components.”

The regulations of the customs union stipulate that exempted goods should have at least 40 percent local components.