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India and GCC Resume Free Trade Agreement Talks: Dr Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV&OIA), Ministry of External Affairs  

Jul 12, 2023

Countries also considering alternative trading forms, including Rupee and barter trading: Dr Ausaf Sayeed at the 6th India Arab Partnership Conference. 

NEW DELHI, July 12, 2023: Dr Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary (CPV&OIA), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, today informed of the resumption of discussions on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at the 6th India Arab Partnership Conference. 

"India and GCC have resumed discussions on concluding the Free Trade Agreement. We have exchanged preliminary documents, and the delegations have been meeting. We hope this will soon become a reality, bringing newer opportunities for businesses on both sides," Dr Sayeed said during his special address. 

In addition, the secretary alluded to the discussions on exploring alternative forms of trading with GCC nations. “There are discussions with our bilateral partners, talks about Rupee trading, barter trading and many other things, especially under the circumstances where most countries are facing challenges of foreign currency.” 

The Secretary identified seven focus areas between India and the Arab world: food security, supply chains, healthcare and pharma, energy security, renewable energy (including green hydrogen and green ammonia), chips and semiconductors, and technology (including FinTech and HealthTech). The entertainment, tourism, and cultural sectors were also noted as fields with significant growth potential. 

Substantial foreign direct investments have already underscored the robust relationship between the two regions. "While the Gulf countries have made investments to the tune of US dollars 20 billion in India, Indian companies have also made significant investments in the West Asian countries," Dr Sayeed stated, emphasising the profound mutual confidence that exists between India and the Arab nations. 

On energy security, the Secretary pointed out that the Gulf countries supply almost 35% of India's oil imports and 70% of gas imports. However, he expressed that the energy partnership is evolving beyond a buyer-seller dynamic into a more comprehensive one, with some countries investing in strategic partnerships while many other countries offering oil blocks to Indian companies.  

"Cooperation in the renewable energy sector, particularly in the fields of green hydrogen and green ammonia, is a very important area for our bilateral cooperation," he remarked, conveying optimism for the sustainability of this partnership. 

On occasion, Dr Khalid Hanafi, Secretary General, Union of Arab Chambers (UAC), thanked the government and the private sector from both regions and expressed optimism about the future of the Indo-Arab partnership. “The partnership between India and the Arab world has a bright future, and our relationship should now evolve from a linear, traditional relationship to a new relationship based on technology. 

Dr Fadi Salti al-Khalil, Chairman of the Planning and International Cooperation Commission of the Syrian Arab Republic, underlined that the Indo-Arab partnership will enhance economic capabilities. He also called for establishing a new economic bloc to create a revolution based on the fourth industrial revolution for sustainable development and achieving growth and prosperity. 

Dr Siddeek Ahmed, Co-Chair of FICCI Middle East Council and Chairman & Managing Director of Eram Group, extolled the event as an invaluable platform for fostering cooperation between India and Arab nations. With a shared history, cultural ties, common values, and mutual interests binding India and the Arab countries, Dr Ahmed advocated for a collaborative approach to overcoming shared challenges and optimising opportunities in a post-pandemic world, leveraging the strength and synergy innate to this partnership. 

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