The GCC has defied global trends of recession, with the economic bloc projected to expand by 4.1 percent in 2014, Nemat Shafik, deputy managing director of the IMF, said on Saturday.
Shafik highlighted the strong macroeconomic performance of GCC member states during a meeting held between GCC finance ministers and central bank governors. The meeting was chaired by Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s minister of finance.
GCC finance ministers discussed several key issues, including the planned Gulf monetary union, a customs body and a GCC railway project.
Shafik said that “the growth in the GCC is forecast to pick up in 2014, as oil production rises and the nonoil sector benefits from the large infrastructure projects being implemented.”
She said that GCC countries remain pillars of “stability” in the global oil market. The “contribution of your economies to the international economy is vital,” Shafik said, addressing GCC representatives.
Remittance outflows from expatriates working in the GCC are important income sources for other countries, said Shafik.
The IMF deputy chief said that “additional reforms” could help in containing the growth of public sector jobs and strengthen education outcomes to create a high-skilled workforce.
The 97th GCC finance ministers’ meeting, which concluded on Saturday, also discussed the formulation of a single customs system and an economic judicial agency, besides the GCC railway project. The GCC has been entrusted with the task of completing the GCC railway project by 2018.
Two international firms will be chosen to conduct a feasibility study on the project.
A plan that supports the creation of the Arab Customs Union was also discussed.

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