India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Friday decided to expedite the legal and technical requirements for a formal resumption of the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.
The FTA is envisaged to be a modern, comprehensive Agreement with substantial coverage of goods and services.
This was announced in a joint press conference held by Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and GCC Secretary General Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf.
Both sides emphasised that the FTA will create new jobs, raise living standards, and provide wider social and economic opportunities in India and all the GCC countries.
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.
GCC is currently India’s largest trading partner bloc with bilateral trade in 2021-22 valued at overA $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 2021-22, with exports valued at $5.5 billion and imports at $8.3 billion.
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.