Gulf Daily News, Bahrain
21 August 2004
GCC-India to draw up draft for free trade pact
By ABDULRAHMAN FAKHRI
MANAMA: The framework for a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the GCC states will be signed this week, it has been revealed. The agreement will be signed during the visit of Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Dr Mohammed Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, who will be heading a GCC delegation, including senior officials from Bahrain’s Commerce Ministry.
No arrival date has been set yet, said an Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman. GCC Secretary-General Abdulrahman bin Atiyah will sign the agreement on behalf of the GCC states with officials from India’s Commerce Ministry during a three-day visit that will start on Tuesday.
The GCC-India framework agreement will provide overall commitment for increased economic co-operation, said the spokesman.
The proposed project was first discussed at the GCC-India Industrial Conference held in Mumbai in February this year.
The GCC delegation, which included Bahrain’s Commerce Minister Ali Saleh Al Saleh, was headed by Mr Bin Atiyah.
The conference, which was co-chaired by India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Arun Jaitley, focused on trade, investment, industrial co-operation and transfer of technology.
In a joint communiqué, the two parties called for increased co-operation in harmonisation and recognition of business standards, trade documentation and certification to provide further streamlined movement of goods and services.
Based on statistics issued by the Indian Commerce Ministry, trade between India and Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE has been on the rise during the last few years.
Exports from the GCC states to India have increase from $1,565.95 million in 2001-2002 to about $1,889.25m in 2002-2003. India’s exports to the Gulf during the same period also rose from $3,798m to $4,913m.