India-Gulf free trade pact likely by 2009

November 10th, 2008 - 12:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Doha, Nov 10 (IANS) A free trade agreement between India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is likely to be signed as early as 2009, official sources said.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held discussions on the issue with leaders of Oman during the course of his ongoing visit to the Gulf, wants the agreement to be signed in 2009, according to an official source.

“Next year, Oman is going to occupy the chair of the GCC and the prime minister has said that we should be ready to sign the FTA anytime in 2009,” the source said.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) comprise the GCC.

The FTA with GCC essentially includes three things - goods, investments and services.

Briefing the media accompanying the prime minister’s delegation, Secretary (East) N. Ravi said a decision on the FTA is likely to be taken as early as December this year.

“In terms of services as well as investments, apparently there is a reasonable degree of overlap,” he said.

“In terms of goods, the Omani side is examining the Indian offer of various concessions we will give to different categories of goods,” Ravi added.

Oman was the first country to propose an FTA between the Gulf and India.

The FTA between the two sides has been in the works for a long time now, but the need to expedite it has risen given the current global financial crisis.

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