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India, GCC agree to resume negotiations for FTA: Goyal

November 25, 2022
Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyus Goyal, left and GCC Secretary General Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf address the press in New Delhi on Thursday.
Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyus Goyal, left and GCC Secretary General Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf address the press in New Delhi on Thursday.

NEW DELHI — India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have agreed to resume negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyus Goyal said on Thursday. The date of the launch of the negotiation, however, was not disclosed.

India and GCC had signed a framework agreement on economic cooperation to explore the possibility of an FTA between them — more than 17 years ago.

Thereafter, two rounds of negotiations happened in 2006 and in 2008. However, after the two rounds, the economic union deferred its negotiations with all countries and economic groups.

Separately, India signed a trade deal with the UAE earlier this year in February.

“We have agreed to pursue the free trades agreement between GCC and India and resume the negotiations and conclude the same at the earliest,” Goyal told reporters in New Delhi at a joint press conference with GCC Secretary General Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf.

Goyal also said teams from both sides would decide on the next round of talks. The six nations — Saudi Arabia, Untired Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman — form the union in the Gulf region. The GCC is India’s largest trading bloc.

India’s exports to GCC member countries grew 58.26% to about $44 billion in 2021-22 as against $27.8 billion in 2000-21, according to the data from the Commerce Ministry.

Bilateral trade in goods increased to $1554.73 billion in 2021-22 from $87.4 billion in 2020-21. Service trade between the two regions was valued at around $14 billion in 2021-22, with exports aggregated at $5.5 billion and imports at $8.3 billion. GCC countries contribute almost 35% of India’s oil and 70% of its gas imports.

Goyal said that the trade deal will be comprehensive, with substantial coverage of goods and services, including technology, food security, climate change, energy security, among others.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia make up for most of the trade with the GCC. Investments from the GCC in India are currently valued at over $18 billion.

Petroleum products, precious and semi-precious stones, and plastics are the top imported items from the GCC. Cereals, electrical equipment, apparel, and machinery are the top exported items in the region. — Agencies


November 25, 2022
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