The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the concord of 6 Gulf countries – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain – is a boat-load of potential trade opportunities, making it the ideal choice for India to sign a Free Trade Agreement with. It is expected that an Agreement, when signed and sealed, will give a boost to India’s exports to the global as well as respective markets of each GCC member, and stimulate overall economic ties.
According to sources, India is to start negotiations for the FTA with GCC next month, following which, exports of food items, clothing and several other goods are contemplated to rise. Duty concessions under a trade agreement will also help in tapping the said markets. Khalid Khan, Vice Chairman, Federation of Indian Exports Organisation (FIEO) said sectors like chemicals, textiles, gems and jewellery and leather will get a major impetus by this agreement.
Data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry shows that India’s exports to the GCC increased by 58.26% in 2021-22 from USD 27.8 billion in 2020-21. Similarly India’s exports to and imports from the six countries have also increased in the last year. Bilateral trade between the regions increased to USD 154.73 billion in 2021-22 from USD 87.4 billion a year earlier.
The UAE-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed between the two nations in February 2022 has already deepened the long-existing trade relations. And as India signs the FTA with GCC, the bilateral trade is bound to grow in leaps and bounds. However, the most recent and awaited India-UK FTA hasn’t been able to see the light of the day yet.
Earlier this month, DP World in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) hosted ‘The India-UAE Bridge, Dubai – India’s Gateway to the World‘ for key business leaders in Mumbai to showcase the role of Jebel Ali Port and Free Zone in boosting non-oil trade between the UAE and India, to USD 100 billion over the next 5 years, complementing the CEPA between India and UAE.