India negotiating FTAs with GCC, South Korea

23 Jul 2007


Mumbai: India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) expect a free trade agreement between the two to be in place by the year-end.

New Delhi is also starting a negotiations with South Korea on July 24 where the two sides will give details of their initial offers on tariffs.

Negotiations between GCC and India on the FTA are expected to be concluded by the year-end and an agreement will be signed by early next year. This would give a further fillip to bilateral trade ties, Indian ambassador to Bahrain, Balkrishna Shetty, said.

Bahrain is keen to have this agreement and seems to be ready to help remove any possible bottlenecks for moving ahead with this, he told a meeting in the Bahraini capital of Manama.

He said Bahrain is the only country in the Gulf that has an FTA with the United States and Indian companies setting up business in Bahrain gain access to the US market as well, adding that it is also the most liberal country in the Gulf region.

He said there are many opportunities for joint ventures between India and Bahrain, and Bahrain can be a business hub for Indian companies.

He identified sectors like manufacturing, services, education, training, infrastructure projects, aluminum, petrochemicals, information technology, tourism and healthcare for possible tie-ups.

Bilateral trade between India and Bahrain last year touched $532.08 million from $343.59 million five years ago.

Meanwhile, India will discuss proposed tariff cuts with South Korea during another round of talks this week on a planned free trade deal, the South Korean government said.

At the four-day meeting starting in New Delhi on July 24, the two sides will give details of their initial offers on tariffs, the ministry of agriculture and forestry said.

Seoul and New Delhi started talks on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA), similar to a free trade deal, in March 2006.

The two countries are also expected to discuss place-of-origin rules for agricultural products and processed goods, the ministry said.

Seoul already has FTAs with Chile, Singapore, the European free trade association and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, excluding Thailand.

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