Indo-GCC trade to reach $ 40 mln by 2010 once FTA begins

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New Delhi, Nov 6 (UNI) India's trade with Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) is likely to touch 40 billion dollars over the next three years provided the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two nations is operationalised.

Country's total trade with GCC countries, comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE has already gone up to 22.5 billion dollars, in fiscal ending March 2007 from 5.6 billion dollars in fiscal 2001, a paper on Indo-GCC FTA, by the industry body Assocham said.

''India's trade basket with GCC is highly concentrated and its top five export categories account for over 50 per cent of India's export basket to the bloc and top five import items represent over 17 per cent of total import basket from the bloc,'' Assocham President Venugopal N Dhoot said.

During the last seven years, India's export of mineral fuels (petroleum products) to the UAE alone have grown from 30 million dollars in 2001 to 3.6 billion dollars in 2007 because India's refining capacities have improved during the last few years and are expected to receive further impetus with investments from oil companies in gulf, Mr Dhoot said.

India's trade with GCC countries has expanded beyond oil trade, with both exports and imports surging substantially during this period. While India's exports to GCC countries grew at nearly 27 per cent per annum to 16.3 million dollars in 2007, imports (excluding oil) from the region were valued at 6.2 billion dollars in 2007, growing at about 22.4 per cent per annum.

The share of GCC countries in India's total trade (excluding oil imports) has increased from about 7.1 per cent in fiscal 2001 to 8.7 per cent in fiscal 2007.

The Chamber is also of the view that India enjoys extremely cordial relations with GCC countries which are the primary source for India's oil imports. With enhanced economic cooperation through the proposed FTA, India would not only be assured of oil supplies in future but is also expected to benefit immensely from increased trade and investment opportunities in the region.

UNI

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