India, GCC to resume free trade pact negotiations

Published : 27 Nov 2022 08:20 PM

India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have announced that they would resume talks on a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Addressing a joint press conference in New Delhi on Thursday, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and GCC Secretary General Nayef Falah M Al-Hajraf announced their intent to continue talks on the India-GCC Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

"The FTA will be a comprehensive economic partnership that will cover different aspects of trade & will also look at certain aspects related to investment promotion," Goyal said.

He added that India plays an important role in food security and contributes to healthcare architecture of the GCC while the GCC is a reliable partner in catering to India's energy security.

Both sides agreed to expedite conclusion of the requisite legal and technical requirements for formal resumption of the FTA negotiations.

"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 FTA is envisaged to be a modern, comprehensive Agreement with substantial coverage of goods and services," India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry said. Both sides also stressed that the FTA will improve living conditions, increase employment prospects, and expand social and economic changes in India and all of the GCC nations. In response to the huge potential that exists as a result of the complementing commercial and economic ecosystems of India and the GCC, both sides decided to significantly expand and diversify the trade basket, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said.

It should be mentioned that the GCC is now India's largest trading bloc, with bilateral commerce valued at over USD 154 billion in FY 2021–22. Additionally, nearly 35% of India's oil imports and 70% of its gas imports come from the GCC. The value of GCC investments in India today exceeds USD 18 billion.