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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU, Gulf Nations Expect Trade Pact

BRUSSELS -- The European Union said Monday that it expected to complete a free trade agreement with Gulf nations "in the near future" after making progress at talks last week.

The 27-nation EU is the largest trade partner for the Gulf Cooperation Council, a political and economic alliance comprising Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

A deal should set common rules that would encourage trade in goods and services, increase investment, protect intellectual property rights and open up public procurement.

It would also cover human rights, illegal immigration and the fight against terrorism.

It would not affect EU imports of oil from the Gulf region as they are not charged with any tariffs.

The European Commission said a deal would be built on existing WTO agreements to deepen trade liberalization in goods and services.