India and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced their intention to resume free trade agreement (FTA) talks on Thursday and will start working on finalising the terms of reference and scope of the pact.
“It will be a broad FTA and include all mutually agreed areas. It will be a modern pact taking into account business environment post-Covid-19,” said Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf, Secretary General, GCC at a joint press conference with Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.
The Indian Minister said that both sides complemented each other. For instance while India provided food security, the GCC nations supported energy security.
The proposed India-GCC FTA, which is targeted to create new jobs, raise living standards, and provide wider social and economic opportunities in India and all the GCC countries, will identify clear areas of focus and establish ways of working together to resolve issues hampering bilateral trade, including trade remedy cases.
The FTA will be important for India as the GCC, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is currently its largest trading partner bloc with bilateral trade at over $154 billion in 2021-22, according to government figures.
India’s exports were valued at about $ 44 billion while imports were at $ 110 billion during the last fiscal.
The GCC is also a significant supplier of oil and gas to the country. 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.