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Well, check this out, Bahrain and who followed it got their way, enjoy:

Gulf Arab finance ministers have agreed that duty-free US imports may be exempted from their unified tariff system, accepting that they cannot stop bilateral free trade deals with Washington, a Gulf source said.

He said the agreement by finance ministers earlier this month to accommodate individual accords with the US will be presented to foreign ministers of the GCC for approval on June 4.

"They accepted the principle that the US should be given an exemption," the source said.

The decision marks a climbdown by Saudi Arabia, which was angered when Bahrain signed a free trade accord with the US last year.

It said the deal violated the GCC's common external tariff agreement which set import duties at five percent. But other GCC members, Oman and the UAE, have since started their own free trade talks with the US.

The two other members of the GCC, which controls half of the world's oil reserves, are Qatar and Kuwait.

"The principle has been accepted that the US -- and only the US -- is given that exemption," the source said.

He said a technical committee will look into practical ways to accommodate individual deals reached with Washington without undermining the GCC customs union, under which the six member states plan to dismantle customs posts on their joint borders.

Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf had warned in January the kingdom would consider imposing customs duties on foreign goods imported duty-free through its neighbours.

The source said one GCC proposal was for the government of any country which agrees a free trade deal with Washington to pay the five percent duty on any US imports -- instead of the importers themselves -- and put the money in a regional fund.

Other ideas included tagging products imported duty-free, or routing them via existing free trade zones in Gulf states.

The issue is not expected to be a major point of contention at Saturday's summit meeting of Gulf leaders in Riyadh, which will review a progress report on the GCC customs union and progress towards a common market and monetary union in 2010.

Saudi Arabia is still negotiating accession to the World Trade Organisation. It hopes to win formal US approval for its bid within weeks.
 
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