India, GCC to resume free trade talks soon news
27 August 2008

Mumbai: Stalled talks over a free trade agreement between India and the Gulf Cooperation Council will resume in Riyadh in the next two months, local media reports quoted an Indian official as saying in Abu Dabhi.

''We will be meeting very soon, next month or October,'' reports quoted Bharathi Sihag, joint secretary in the commerce ministry, as saying.

Talks on the India-GCC free trade agreement has been stalled since the first round held in March 2006 due to administrative reasons, as the same set of officials were involved in FTA talks with the EU and Korea also.

The GCC is India's second-largest trading partner after the United States, with bilateral trade rising to $35 billion in the last financial year - a more than six-fold rise from $5.55 billion in 2001.

India, the world's fifth-largest consumer of oil, mainly imports crude oil while the Gulf countries buy food and manufactured goods from India.

''We are still in early talks,'' the Indian official said, adding, ''It's still the second round. Before the momentum builds up and we begin to exchange lists, it will take a couple of more rounds.''

A deal is unlikely before next year's GCC-India Industrial Conference, to be held in Saudi Arabia, she said.

Countries are increasingly going for bilateral and regional trade agreements after the collapse of the Doha Round of global trade talks in Geneva last month.

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India, GCC to resume free trade talks soon