Gobras Peninsula Free Trade Agreement
|Gobras Peninsula Free Trade Agreement|
| Alternate Name(s):|
|Intergovernmental Organization with Headquarters in Gobrassanya|
|Address|| GPFTA Coordination Office, SUECC Bldg.|
601 Capitol Blvd. S.
Gobras City, National Capital District, Gobrassanya
|Number of Members|| 3|
|Coordinator|| TBD |
|Deputy Coordinator|| Mona R. Sapwag |
Closer relations between the nations of the Gobras Peninsula were discussed several times in the late twentieth century, resulting in a number of limited treaties which resolved boundary disputes, liberalized trade in specific industries, facilitated cross-border cooperation among law enforcement, and addressed other minor issues.
In 2013 Aloran leaders proposed to the nations of Gobrassanya and Khaiwoon the opening of borders and economic normalization of the region occupied by the Gobras Peninsula, the Lonowai Islands, and the islands of Khaiwoon. Originally known as the "Gobras Peninsula Border Treaty" (GPBT) this would have eliminated the need for visas and passports to travel between the countries and eliminated the need for border crossing checkpoints between the countries as well. Countries outside the treaty area would still be subject to customs and customs taxes, but between the countries of the GPBT there would no longer be customs or customs taxes collected. Customs taxes would be collected by the respective country where the border was crossed and shared proportionally with the member nations. Without border controls, a coordinated immigration and visa policy would have also been implemented.
This treaty was touted to purportedly save billions of talents and daras annually due to no longer needing to man hundreds of border crossings, to ease the demand on customs at airports, and to facilitate the integration of several metropolitan areas that cross over border territories. Creating a common border area would allow transportation infrastructure to be complementary across border areas, especially in cases of mass transit. In addition it would free up economic activity between member nations due to the lifting of customs and associated taxes between nations.
The government of Gobrassanya, which initially expressed interest in the proposal, was dissuaded by a backlash of public opinion, which suspected the GPBT of being a vehicle for Aloran domination of its much smaller neighbor. Anti-GPBT rallies took place throughout Gobrassanya during 2013, and in January of 2014 a large demonstration was held in Gobras City as thousands of protestors flooded the capital, demanding that Gobrassanya's borders be "defended" against "Aloran dominance." A number of serious commentators dismissed the protests as "tinfoil nonsense" ginned up by "talk radio hotheads" but they nevertheless received significant media coverage and widespread attention.
Undeterred, negotiators for the three countries agreed to participate in a series of discreet meetings throughout 2014, with assistance from the Southern Uletha Economic Cooperation Council, and in February of 2015 announced the Gobras Peninsula Free Trade Agreement. Unlike the GPBT, GPFTA would not eliminate border controls or create a full customs union, but it would remove a broad set of trade and travel restrictions, and establish certain free trade zones (Special administrative regions) along the Gobrassian-Aloran border, with fast, efficient border crossings made available to residents and businesses within the zone. Foreign ministers for the governments of all three countries signed the agreement on February 9, 2015, in the city of Gautig, Gobrassanya, and brought it back to their legislatures for the necessary ratification.
Special administrative regions (SARs)
As part of the GPFTA special administrative regions can be created among the participating nations upon approval of the respective nations. Currently one SAR is proposed for the area immediately surrounding Grand Lake. This region has a high volume of cross border traffic especially due to the high volume of commuters that travel across the border to work each day. The SAR region would comprise Boundary County in the state of Tenata, Alora, and Sable, Grand Lake, and Gaule counties in Grand Lake District, Gobrassanya. Security checkpoints would remain at the borders between the countries and at lake and railway terminals on opposing sides of the border. More restrictive security measures would be in place for citizens crossing the border that reside outside the SAR zone but within the SAR zone citizens would be able to travel more easily across the border to commute given that they pass a security prescreening. This allows them to go through the express lanes at border checkpoints. This also applies to approved freight movers between the countries as long as the beginning and ending destinations of the goods is within the SAR zone.
Reduction of travel restrictions
Although border checkpoints still remain, citizens of the member countries cross more easily than in the past. GPFTA gives citizens of the member countries the option of showing government-issued photo ID in place of a passport, and tourists traveling between GPFTA countries are eligible to stay visa-free for an extended period of 90 days. In addition, work visas, student visas, and other visas are fast-tracked by all three countries for GPFTA citizens.
Reduction of trade regulations
The GPFTA eliminates tariffs on a wide variety of commodities being traded between the member countries, and reduces tariffs significantly for an even larger set of goods. The agreement also streamlines a number of economic regulations affecting cross-border trade, making it easier for firms to conduct business throughout the member countries.
Cooperation of border security forces
The GPFTA treaty also states that the border security and domestic security forces of each country are required to meet at an annual summit to collaborate on border security and economic security for the treaty area. Each member nation is responsible for maintaining the security of the treaty area.
To take effect, the GPFTA required ratification by all three member nations. Alora ratified the agreement in June of 2015 by a 2/3rds vote of the Legislature and also the approval of the president. Gobrassanya followed in August, and ratification was completed when the Legislative Assembly of Khaiwoon approved the agreement on September 4, 2015. Upon ratification, the treaty went into effect, the new regulations were implemented, and border crossings within the Alora/Gobrassanya SARs were modified to accommodate the express lanes specified by the agreement.
A public opinion poll conducted at the time by the Times of Khaiwoon indicated that GPFTA was supported by 78% of Khaiwoonese and 67% of Gobrassians.