India, Gulf countries to finalise FTA by 2007

Published on Mar 26, 2006 06:10 PM IST

The GCC members have agreed to hold an Investment Summit in India in 2007 at Nath's suggestion, a release said.

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None | ByPress Trust of India, New Delhi

In a major boost to Indo-Gulf trade and economic ties, India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have decided to finalise the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by early 2007.

"We have also agreed to expand the scope to include services and investment, thus making it a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement instead of a mere FTA", Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said following a meeting with his counterparts from the GCC countries in Muscat and later in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

India and GCC have made significant progress in pursuing the proposal for FTA, he said, adding that the outcome of the latest round of talks three days ago in Riyadh had been very fruitful with both sides agreeing to finalise the FTA by early next year.

India's trade with the GCC countries would exceed 20 billion US dollars during the current financial year 2005-06 (excluding oil imports), equalling India's trade with Europe, Nath added.

Stressing the strategic relevance of the Gulf region for India, he invited investors and entrepreneurs from the Gulf to avail the exciting new opportunities in India through joint ventures and collaborations in various sectors.

The GCC members agreed to hold an Investment Summit in India next year at Nath's suggestion, an official release said.

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