Key Gulf-India Inc meeting in Jan
Monday, September 12, 2005
NEW DELHI, SEPT 11: The second meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Indian businessmen will be held from January 28-29 next year in Muscat, Oman.
This will be an important meeting since many crucial issues like rules of origin will be discussed in detail so as to put in place comprehensive terms that will guide the signing of an FTA between the regional group and India.
Speaking to FE Khalifa bin Ali Al-Harthy, Oman ambassador in India said, “We hope further progress will be made at the meeting to boost bilateral trade and investment between GCC countries and India.”
“Already, there is considerable investment from Oman in India in areas like IT and health while Indian investment is also flowing into Oman and other Gulf countries.”
The negotiations, to be initiated under a framework agreement signed by the two parties in August 2004, should be expedited soon and issues like the rules of origin and differential tariff rates need to be resolved, he added.
These issues would be discussed in details so as to put in place a comprehensive and agreed upon terms preceding the signing of an FTA between the regional group and India.
Sources in external affairs ministry said that a preparatory action team and committee chaired by Omanese under secretary Ahmad Al-Dheib recently had several round of meetings with commerce ministry and other agencies on the India-GCC framework agreement on the proposed free trade area.
The forum will be coordinating activities between GCC secretariat and India and would focus on cooperation in the fields of energy, research and development, communications, tourism, and experiences in small and medium projects in addition to other economy and investment issues.
Around 400 participants are expected to take part in the meeting in Oman. Rajiv Sikri, secretary (East) told FE that India had emerged as the second largest trading partner, after the US, of GCC member countries Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.
“Traditional trade and investment partners like the Gulf will always occupy an important place in our external relations,” said he, expressing hope that negotiations on the India-GCC framework agreement on a proposed free trade area will help boost bilateral investment and trade.
Negotiations are slated to start on better banking arrangements; setting up an information channel on investment opportunities; avoidance of double taxation; and a treaty to promote and protect investment among other issues.
The first India-GCC forum (held in Mumbai in February 2004) discussed among other issues is trade exchange and ways and means to counter obstacles in trade.