Vat Agreement between Gcc Countries

Value-added tax (VAT) is a tax that is levied on the value added to goods and services at each stage of production or distribution. It is a consumption tax that is ultimately borne by the end consumer. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have been working on implementing a common VAT system for several years now. In this article, we will discuss the VAT agreement between GCC countries.

What is the GCC?

The GCC is a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The GCC was established in 1981 with the aim of promoting economic cooperation and integration among its member states.

VAT in GCC countries

Before the implementation of VAT, the GCC countries relied heavily on oil exports to generate revenue. However, with the decline in oil prices, the governments of these countries realized the need to diversify their sources of income. Introducing VAT was seen as a way to generate additional revenue while reducing reliance on oil.

The GCC VAT agreement

In 2016, the GCC countries signed the VAT agreement, which aimed to establish a unified VAT system in all member states. The agreement set out the general principles of VAT and the rate at which it would be charged (5%).

Some of the key features of the agreement include:

1. Taxable supplies: The VAT agreement outlines the types of goods and services that are subject to VAT.

2. Registration: All businesses that meet the threshold for VAT registration must register with the tax authorities in their respective countries.

3. Invoicing: The agreement stipulates the information that must be included on invoices, such as the VAT identification number of the supplier and the amount of VAT charged.

4. Returns: Registered businesses must file VAT returns on a regular basis, typically monthly or quarterly.

5. Cross-border transactions: The agreement provides guidelines on how VAT should be applied to cross-border transactions between member states.

Challenges in implementing VAT in GCC countries

Implementing VAT in GCC countries was not without challenges. One of the key challenges was the lack of a comprehensive tax system in some member states. This made it difficult to establish a uniform VAT system across the region. Other challenges included lack of awareness among businesses and consumers about the new tax system and the need to update accounting systems to comply with VAT requirements.


The VAT agreement between GCC countries marks a significant step towards greater economic integration and cooperation in the region. The implementation of VAT is expected to generate additional revenue for member states and reduce reliance on oil exports. However, the success of the VAT system will depend on how effectively member states implement the agreement and address the challenges that arise.