This paper argues that there are significant potential benefits still to be had in promoting stronger Canada-Middle East economic relations, particularly with respect to the countries of the rapidly growing Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). To enjoy these benefits, however, enhanced political engagement in the region is needed, as well as a commitment on the part of the Canadian government to forge stronger economic ties (formal and informal) with selected Middle Eastern countries. Canada has developed a number of formal links with the Middle East, most notably a free trade agreement with Israel, and a number of bilateral tax agreements, but there is room to secure further formal links to the region and to foster trade more generally. These formal and informal relationships, accompanied by enhanced strategic governmental contacts and more savvy efforts by Canadian businesses, would likely be rewarded by substantially higher levels of business activity, particularly with the Gulf states.
Bessma Momani is a senior fellow, joining CIGI in 2004. She has a Ph.D. in political science with a focus on international political economy and is full professor at the University of Waterloo.