India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have agreed to pursue a free trade agreement (FTA) and conclude it at the earliest, Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal said on Thursday.  

The council is already India’s largest trading partner. “GCC countries contribute almost 35 per cent of India’s oil imports and 70 per cent of our gas imports,” the minister said. 

GCC Secretary General Dr NFM Al-Hajraf said that the council is keen to pursue the FTA negotiations with India. “We have instructed our respective negotiation teams to finalise all documents for the FTA. FTA is a means to capitalise on what’s already existing between India and GCC,” he said. 

The secretary-general further said that the deal will cater to the Gulf economy after Covid-19. “Businesses have entered into a new challenging era, FTA to be in place for trade and investment, food and energy security, climate change and others. The relations between the GCC countries and India are deeply rooted,” he said. 

Earlier this month, Goyal had said that India would be launching negotiations for a very important free trade agreement with a region next week. 

The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. India has already implemented a free trade pact with the UAE in May this year.  

India is also negotiations trade deals with the UK, European Union, Canada and Israel. Earlier this week, the Australian Parliament cleared the interim trade deal signed with India.  

Piyush Goyal recently said that the world sees huge opportunities in India and that is the reason for increasing engagement with New Delhi. He also said that the country’s economy may touch $30 trillion by 2047. 

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