Support early conclusion of FTA with GCC: India to Kuwait

Business Standard, India

Support early conclusion of FTA with GCC: India to Kuwait

8 November 2013

PTI/India today urged Kuwait to support its efforts for early conclusion of talks for the proposed free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

"We are currently negotiating FTA with GCC. I would urge you (Kuwait) to support for the early conclusion of the FTA," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said at an interactive meeting of Indian chambers with Kuwait Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah here.

India is pursuing a free trade pact with the GCC, which is its third largest trading partner. The council is a customs union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

A framework agreement on economic cooperation between India and GCC was signed on August 25, 2004. India has BIPA treaty with Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in the Gulf region since 1997.

"Indians are the largest expatriates in Kuwait. They contribute in the development of Kuwait... I believe that stage is set today for strong cooperation," the Kuwaiti Prime Minister said.

Sharma also invited Kuwait to invest in infrastructure projects and national manufacturing investment zones (NMIZs).

Of late, there has been a debate in India over the efficacy of FTAs that aim to push up exports.

Yesterday, industry body Assocham said the government should revisit its strategy for negotiating free trade agreements as these pacts have achieved limited results in terms of increasing trade volumes.

The Commerce Ministry on Wednesday had said that some concerns on such pacts were raised this week at a meeting of the Prime Minister headed panel, Trade & Economic Relations Committee.

The ministry had stated however that TERC, which met on November 4, gave "clear mandate for FTA negotiations".