DUBAI, 28 February – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are set to appoint a chief negotiator next month, which will help fasten the pace of talks on striking a free trade agreement (FTA) with India, the Indian financial daily Mint reported, citing informed sources.
The trade talks’ resumption was agreed upon in November 2022 during a meeting between India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and GCC Secretary General Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf.
“GCC is expected to appoint a new chief negotiator in March and then a mutually convenient time for meeting through diplomatic channels will be arrived at,” the newspaper said, quoting an unnamed official.
A framework agreement on economic cooperation between India and the GCC was signed in 2004.
“First of all, the scope of the deal needs to be finalised. Initial talks to ascertain the scope of the deal have happened, and 90% of the items that would be negotiated have been agreed,” another unnamed official said.
“The intent of a deal has been announced and the meetings will start soon,” he added.
The GCC is India’s largest trading partner bloc, with bilateral trade exceeding $150 billion in 2021-22.
UAE’s ambassador to India Abdulnasser Alshaali told Mint that India’s deal with GCC will likely have aspects of UAE-India CEPA.
The bilateral trade between the UAE and India rose to $57.8 billion between April and November 2022, up from $45.3 billion in the same period last year after the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in February 2022, the Indian Consulate in Dubai data showed. — Zawya