According to an official release issued on Friday, India and the Gulf Cooperation Council have decided to resume FTA negotiations (25 November).

Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and GCC Secretary General Nayef Falah M Al-Hajraf held a joint press conference on Thursday (24 November) to announce their intention to pursue negotiations on the India-GCC free trade agreement. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a grouping of six Gulf countries: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain. The council is India’s largest trading bloc.

“Bilateral engagements witnessed significant progress on all matters of mutual interest across the entire gamut of bilateral economic relations between India and the GCC nations,” the Commerce Ministry said in a state. According to the ministry, both parties agreed to expedite the completion of the necessary legal and technical requirements for the formal resumption of the FTA negotiations.

The FTA is intended to be a modern, comprehensive agreement that covers a wide range of goods and services.”Both sides emphasised that the FTA will create new jobs, raise living standards, and expand social and economic opportunities in India and throughout the GCC,” the ministry said.

They agreed to significantly expand and diversify the trade basket in response to the enormous potential that exists as a result of India’s and the GCC’s complementary business and economic ecosystems, it added.The GCC is currently India’s largest trading partner bloc, with bilateral trade valued at more than $154 billion in fiscal year 2021-22. billion, with exports worth approximately $44 billion and imports worth approximately $110 billion (non-oil exports worth $33.8 billion and imports worth $37.2 billion).

According to the ministry, 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 valued at $8.3 billion. GCC countries account for nearly 35% of India’s oil imports and 70% of its gas imports.

In 2021-22, India’s total crude oil imports from the GCC were around $48 billion, while LNG and LPG imports were around $21 billion.According to the ministry, GCC investments in India are currently worth more than $18 billion.