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India is likely to start next month negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council for a free trade.


Date: 31-10-2022
Subject: India is likely to start next month negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council for a free trade
India is likely to start next month negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council for a free trade agreement that will not only boost economic ties between the regions but also be a shot in the arm for New Delhi's ambition to significantly shore up its share in global exports.

"Terms of reference for the agreement are being finalised and we expect to launch the negotiations next month," an official told PTI.

GCC is a union of six countries in the Gulf region that includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. In May, India had implemented a free trade agreement with the UAE.

This comes as New Delhi and the United Kingdom missed the Diwali deadline to conclude their FTA talks. The prime ministers of both nations are set to resume talks and agreed on the need for early conclusion. Political changes in the UK and British home secretary Suella Braverman's recent remarks on Indians being the largest group of people overstaying in the UK were seen to be major hurdles in concluding a deal, according to officials.

Experts believe, the GCC region holds huge trade potential and a trade pact will help in further boosting India's exports to that market.

"GCC is a major import dependent region. We can increase our exports of food items, clothing and several other goods. Duty concessions under a trade agreement will help in tapping that market. It will be a win-win situation for both sides," said Rakesh Mohan Joshi, Director, Indian Institute of Plantation Management, Bangalore.

India targets to ramp up exports of goods and services to $2 trillion by 2030 and also eyes to raise the share of its exports in global trade to 3% by 2027 and 10% by 2047 from the current 2.1%, promoting hundred Indian brands as global champions.

Bilateral trade between the regions increased to $154.73 billion in 2021-22 from $87.4 billion a year earlier.

India's exports to the GCC increased by 58.26 per cent to about $44 billion in 2021-22 against $27.8 billion in 2020-21, according to data of the commerce ministry.

The share of these six countries in India's total exports has risen to 10.4 per cent in 2021-22 from 9.51 per cent in 2020-21. Similarly, imports rose by 85.8 per cent to $110.73 billion compared to $59.6 billion in 2020-21, according to commerce ministry data.

The share of GCC members in India's total imports rose to 18 per cent in 2021-22 from 15.5 per cent in 2020-21.

India mostly buys crude oil and natural gas from the Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and exports pearls, precious and semi-precious stones; metals; imitation jewellery; electrical machinery; iron and steel; and chemicals to these countries.

Mumbai-based exporter and founder chairman of Techno-craft Industries India, Sharad Kumar Saraf said the GCC has emerged as a major trading partner for India and there is huge potential for increasing investments between the two regions.

"FTA will have a major benefit for both the sides," Saraf said.

Federation of Indian Exports Organisation (FIEO) Vice Chairman Khalid Khan said sectors like chemicals, textiles, gems and jewellery and leather will get a major impetus by this agreement.

Saudi Arabia was India's fourth-largest trading partner last fiscal. From Qatar, India imports 8.5 million tonnes a year of LNG and exports products ranging from cereals to meat, fish, chemicals, and plastics.

Kuwait was the 27th largest trading partner of India in the last fiscal, while the UAE was the third-largest trading partner in 2021-22.


Source Name:-Economic Times 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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