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Volume :2 Issue : 7 1976      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

ECONOMIC RELATIONS BETWEEN FRANCE AND THE ARABIAN GULF COUNTRIES

Auther : By Dr. M. El-Farra

 
French interest in the Arabian Gulf go back to the seventeenth century, when great powers at that time, e.g. Portugal, Holland, Great Britain and France were struggling to hold foot in the area.
 
France economic relations with the Arabian Gulf countries were not strong as that of Great Britain, but it had some trade activities with Iraq and Persia.  France main objectives were to irk the increasing British influence in the area in order that it could seize some political concession parallel to that of Britain.  The British-French dispute in the Gulf was near to lead to an open war, but it was soon settled friendly when France recognized the Supreme British position in the area.
 
 When petroleum was discovered commercially in the area, France tried to have some interests, but it gained less than Britain, which controlled the whole region, and it was in a position to eliminate the French aspirations and ambitions in the Gulf.  Consequently France was satisfied with it’s 23.75% share in Iraq Petroleum Company and it’s subsidiaries in the area according to the Red-Line Agreement.
 
 France heavily dependence upon North African oil in the fifties and early sixties of this century gave her some consultation.   But when these countries gained their independence, France moved towards the Arabian Gulf oil to satisfy it’s demands.  Arabs appreciation to France justly attitudes to the Arab-Israeli conflict since president “de Gaulle” seized power, was a major factor, which pushed and accelerated the French-Arab political and economic relations.  Consequently, French oil imports from the Arabian Gulf area increased sharply until it constituted 70.50% of its oil imports in 1974.  Saudi Arabia kingdom is by far the major oil supplier to France in 1974 followed by Iraq, Kuwait, and the remaining Arab Emirates.  In 1974, France imported from Saudi Arabia about 32% of its total oil needs.  This percentage constituted about 46% of its total imports from the Arab States in this region.
 
This weak France-Arab Gulf trade relations (except oil) may be attributed to many factors, such as the deep-rooted economic relations between the area and some countries, i.e. U.K., U.S.A., and Japan.  These countries supply the area mainly with motorcars, machineries, oil equipments and many other appliances badly needed to the region, which had undergone ambitious socio-economic development programmes.  Furthermore the recently French-Arab dialogue and officially deep contacts need a long gestation to be fruitful.
 
It seems that France, Iraq and Saudi Arabia economic coordination will gain success.  Furthermore, the prospects of the bilateral military and economic agreements signed recently will enhance the relations between France and these two countries who appreciated the French experience and cooperation needed for their development plans.

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