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Gulf trade deal not as easy as seemed: PM

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/06/2017 Karen Sweeney

A free trade agreement with the Gulf States won't be as easy as it seemed a few months ago, Prime Minister Bill English has conceded.

Seven gulf nations severed ties with Qatar on Monday over accusations the nation supports Islamic groups "that aim to destabilise the region".

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Libya and the Maldives have all taken steps to remove diplomats and urge immigrants to return home.

It comes just months after Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges travelled to the UAE to shore up support for a multi-national trade agreement.

"What looked like a smooth path just a couple of months ago now looks like a pretty unpredictable one," Mr English said on Tuesday.

While he said the world is yet to see how it will unfold, he's not confident.

"It seems to be fairly significant action being taken quite quickly just in the last week so we'll keep an eye on it but I wouldn't be optimistic.''

Earlier this year then foreign minister Murray McCully also travelled to several Gulf States, including Qatar, for trade and security meetings and discussions with the Gulf Co-operation Council.

He spoke of the highly complementary economies and potential for greater co-operation.

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