India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), on Friday, expressed their intent to pursue negotiations on Free Trade the India-GCC FTA in a move that will further strengthen economic and commercial links between India and Gulf nations.
An announcement to this effect was made by Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, GCC Secretary General Nayef Falah M Al-Hajraf, Secretary General at a joint press conference in New Delhi.
They noted that with forward-looking and solution-oriented deliberations, bilateral engagements between the two sides have witnessed significant progress on all matters of mutual interest across the entire gamut of economic relations between India and the GCC nations.
Both sides agreed to expedite the conclusion of the requisite legal and technical requirements for the 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 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.
Both sides 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 may be noted that the 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 about $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.
GCC countries contribute almost 35 per cent of India’s oil imports and 70 percent of its gas imports. India’s overall crude oil imports from the GCC in 2021-22 were to the tune of 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.