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India and GCC agree to resume negotiations for FTA: Piyush Goyal

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NEW DELHI : India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have agreed to resume negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA), Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.

In 2006 and 2008, both sides had negotiated a trade pact, but that had come to a standstill due to some reasons.

“We have agreed to pursue the free trade agreement between GCC and India and resume the negotiations and conclude the same at the earliest,” Goyal told reporters here at a joint press conference with GCC secretary-general Nayef Falah M Al-Hajraf.

Goyal also said teams from both sides would decide on the next round of talks.

GCC is a union of six countries – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain – in the Gulf region. The council is India’s largest trading bloc.

India’s exports to GCC member countries grew 58.26% to about $44 billion in 2021-22 as against $27.8 billion in 2020-21, according to data from the commerce ministry. Bilateral trade in goods increased to $154.73 billion in 2021-22 from $87.4 billion in 2020-21. Services trade between the two regions was valued at around $14 billion in 2021-22, with exports aggregated at $5.5 billion and imports at $8.3 billion. GCC countries contribute almost 35% of India’s oil and 70% of its gas imports.

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