Financial Express - 11 May 2022
Oman’s trade minister visits India amid FTA buzz
Days after India’s free trade agreement (FTA) with the UAE entered into force, a 48-member delegation from Oman, led by its commerce, industry & investment promotion minister, Qais bin Mohammed al Yousef, will be in India from May 11 to 14 to hold talks.
The visit comes amid reports Oman has been keen on an FTA between India and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Interestingly, the GCC group had dithered on whether to seal an FTA with India a decade ago. However, talks for a possible FTA gained traction after India and the UAE signed an FTA in February, which came into force on May 1. The GCC comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the UAE is expected to serve as a template for the fast conclusion of any such deal with the GCC countries, according to sources. In fact, some of these GCC nations want to sign a pact at the earliest, they added.
According to the CEPA, the UAE will allow as many as 99% of Indian goods (in value term) at zero duty in five years from about 90% in the first year. Similarly, India would allow duty-free access to 80% of goods from the UAE now and it would go up to 90% in ten years.
During the visit, senior officials from both the sides would be participating in the 10th Session of the India-Oman Joint Commission Meeting (JCM), to be held on Wednesday. This will be co-chaired by commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal and his counterpart from Oman.
In a separate statement, the commerce ministry said another delegation, led by Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, the UAE’s minister of economy, is also on a visit to India from Wednesday. During the trip, the delegation would meet Goyal to discuss bilateral trade and investment relations.India-Oman trade grew 82% on year in FY22 to hit $ 9.94 billion.
The visiting delegation from Oman includes senior government officials and business representatives from diverse areas spanning health, pharmaceuticals, mining, tourism, telecommunication, energy, shipping and real estate, according to an official statement here.
“The visit provides an excellent opportunity to renew and further strengthen the already close and dynamic economic ties between the two countries,” the ministry said in the statement.