India And Gulf Cooperation Council Agree To Resume Negotiations For Free Trade Agreement

India And Gulf Cooperation Council Agree To Resume Negotiations For Free Trade Agreement

by Swarajya Staff - Friday, November 25, 2022 11:08 AM IST
India And Gulf Cooperation Council Agree To Resume Negotiations For Free Trade AgreementUnion Minister Piyush Goyal (Pic Via PIB Website)

India and the Gulf Cooperation Council have decided to pursue resumption of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, an official release said on Friday (25 November).

Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and GCC secretary general Nayef Falah M Al-Hajraf on Thursday (24 November) held a joint press conference to announce the intent to pursue negotiations on the India-GCC free trade agreement.

GCC is a union of six countries in the Gulf region — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. The council is the largest trading bloc of India.

"With forward-looking and solution-oriented deliberations, bilateral engagements witnessed significant progress on all matters of mutual interest across the entire gamut of bilateral economic relations between India and the GCC nations," the Commerce Ministry said in a release.

The ministry said that both sides agreed to expedite conclusion of the requisite legal and technical requirements for formal resumption of the FTA negotiations.

The FTA is envisaged to be a modern, comprehensive agreement with substantial coverage of goods and services.

"Both sides emphasized that the FTA will create new jobs, raise living standards, and provide wider social and economic opportunities in India and all the GCC countries," the ministry said.

They agreed to significantly expand and diversify the trade basket in line with the enormous potential that exists on account of the complementary business and economic ecosystems of India and the GCC, it added.

GCC is currently India’s largest trading partner bloc with bilateral trade in FY 2021-22 valued at over $154 billion with exports valued at approximately $44 billion and imports of around $110 billion (non-oil exports of $33.8 Billion and non-oil imports of $37.2 Billion).

Bilateral trade in services between India and the GCC was valued at around $14 billion in FY 2021-22, with exports valued at $5.5 Billion and imports at $8.3 Billion, the ministry said.

GCC countries contribute almost 35 per cent of India’s oil imports and 70 per cent of gas imports.

India’s overall crude oil imports from the GCC in 2021-22 were about $48 billion, while LNG and LPG imports in 2021-22 were about $21 billion.

Investments from the GCC in India are currently valued at over $18 billion, according to the ministry.

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