UAE liberalises rules for GCC companies

By Issac John, Khaleej Times

6 February 2012 DUBAI – The UAE on Sunday decided to allow GCC companies to open their branches in the country with the same rights as those enjoyed by national companies in a move aimed at bolstering economic integration among the six-nation group.

The cabinet meeting, chaired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, took the decision to accord full parity to GCC companies vis-a-vis their national counterparts in setting up branches in the UAE.

The move is in line with the GCC Summit’s resolution seeking to bolster economic integration within the regional group, and seeks “to consolidate UAE’s status as the foremost member state in complying with the GCC apex body resolutions”, according to Wam.

According to the communique of the 31st GCC Summit held in Abu Dhabi in 2010, companies owned by citizens of member countries of the group would be allowed to open branches for the same activities across the six-nation bloc. They will enjoy equal treatment everywhere across the GCC.

The cabinet also passed a raft of mandatory specifications (technical standards) for a group of commodities and products as part of the government efforts to protect  consumers, enhance health and environment safety standards and keep abreast of international quality benchmarks of products in the local market.

The cabinet approved 33 new technical standards for various foodstuff, including fruits, vegetables, spices, genetically modified agricultural produce and canned food for children. The technical standards also include additional specifications for shock-resistant vehicles to ensure safety of users.

The cabinet approved the budget of the General Pension and Social Security Authority for 2012 with revenues estimated at about Dh4 billion, payments and expenditures of Dh2.3 billion and a net surplus of Dh1.7 billion.

Estimated revenues show an increase of four per cent over 2011 at Dh106 million while estimated expenses rose 16 per cent at Dh300 million as a result of growing base of pensioners and the projected rise in benefits and compensations. Revenues on investment were forecast to grow more than nine per cent to over Dh70 million. Market value of the investment is also expected to go up.

The cabinet also approved several international conventions the UAE has signed with other countries. The council of minister also passed the budget of the Emirates Investment Authority for fiscal year 2012.