MANAMA: The GCC will emerge from the global economic crisis faster and stronger than others if it continues to work together, according to Economic Development Board chief executive Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa.
In a speech at the Wharton Global Alumni Forum in Dubai, he said that the measures that Bahrain and its neighbours had taken in recent years mean that the global crisis is likely to impact less on the GCC than on some others.
"The Middle East has inevitably suffered along with the rest of the world but are we in the Gulf in the same boat as everyone else?" he asked.
"No, we are not. It is a question of degree. Our problems are real but much smaller than those faced by others because we do not have the same deep structural problems.
"Our governments and external balances are stronger than in other regions. Taking everything into account - low debts and high investment, domestic diversification and regional co-operation - we can be reasonably confident that we will emerge from the global crisis faster and stronger than other regions."
Shaikh Mohammed was optimistic on more co-operation and trade among GCC partners in the future.
"Let us remember that each country is linked to its neighbours and trading partners," he said.
"When we work together, we in the Gulf are stronger and more likely to emerge with a renewed ability to provide a better tomorrow for our people. We may not be as integrated as the European Union - a much older institution - but more and more we trade and invest across our borders. And we have common shareholdings in banking and financial institutions. All these developments are good. Taken together, we are safer and stronger than if we operate in isolation."
"We have adopted a careful, strategic approach in good times and bad," he said.