Home / News / India /  India to launch free trade pact negotiation with Gulf Cooperation Council today

In a bid to promote commerce and investment between the two regions, India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will announce the launch of negotiations for a free trade agreement on Thursday.

GCC is a union of six countries in the Gulf region -- Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain.

In the fiscal year 2021-22, India's exports to the GCC member countries grew by 58.26% to about $44 billion as against $27.8 billion in 2020-21.

According to commerce ministry data, the share of these six countries in India's total exports has risen to 10.4% in 2021-22, from 9.51% in 2020-21.

Similarly, imports rose by 85.8% to $110.73 billion, compared to $59.6 billion in 2020-21, the data showed.

The share of GCC members in India's total imports rose to 18% in 2021-22, from 15.5% in 2020-21.

Bilateral trade has increased to $154.73 billion in 2021-22, from $87.4 billion in 2020-21.

"GCC officials will be here for the announcement," the official said.

India has already implemented a free trade pact with the UAE in May this year.

India's bilateral trade with the nation increased to $72.9 billion in 2021-22 as compared to $43.3 billion in 2020-21.

India imports predominately crude oil and natural gas from the Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and exports pearls, precious and semi-precious stones; metals; imitation jewellery; electrical machinery; iron and steel; and chemicals to these countries.

Besides trade, Gulf nations are host to a sizeable Indian population. Out of about 32 million non-resident Indians (NRIs), nearly half are estimated to be working in Gulf countries.

The NRIs send a significant amount of money back home.

According to a November 2021 report from the World Bank, India got $87 billion in foreign remittances in 2021. Of this, a sizeable portion came from the GCC nations.

Among its trading partner of India in Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia is at the 4th spot. Total bilateral trade has increased to about $ 43 billion in 2021-22, from $ 22 billion a year ago.

India imports 8.5 million tonnes a year of LNG from Qatar and exports products ranging from cereals to meat, fish, chemicals, and plastics. Two-way commerce between India and Qatar rose to $ 15 billion in 2021-22 from $ 9.21 billion in 2020-21.

Kuwait was the 27th largest trading partner of India in the last fiscal. Bilateral trade has jumped to $ 12.3 billion in 2021-22, as compared to $ 6.3 billion in 2020-21.

Oman was the 31st largest trading partner of India in 2021-22. Bilateral trade with the nation has increased to about $ 10 billion in 2021-22, as compared to $ 5.5 billion in 2020-21.

(With PTI inputs)

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