Day one of India, GCC talks ‘fruitful’


Mumbai : Talks on enhancing bilateral trade on the opening day of a two-day meeting between India and the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were "fruitful" leading to concrete decisions, the commerce and industry ministers of India, Oman and Saudi Arabia said here Tuesday.

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"We extensively discussed the agricultural exports. It has been decided that officials from the Agricultural Produce Export Development Authority will visit the Gulf countries very soon to see how we (India) can have a quantum jump in exports," said Kamal Nath, India's minister of commerce and industry.

The minister is heading the Indian delegation to the third such meeting with a 300-member team of ministers and officials from six member states of the GCC – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

Kamal Nath said that both sides are looking at accelerating the signing of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) considering the tremendous potential.

His counterparts from Oman and Saudi Arabia also pointed out that the first day of the meeting saw satisfactory talks.

"We have recognised the potential areas in which both sides can trade and invest. To begin with, India has appropriate technology," said Hashim Bin Abdullah Hashim Al-Yamani, Saudi Arabia's minister of commerce and industry.

He pointed out that keeping in mind the ever-increasing level of trade between the two sides, emphasis in this meeting is on the "second level of cooperation – investment". He added that the way talks were progressing he could see "light at the end of the tunnel".

"This meeting could be very significant from the point of view of investment opportunities and improving mechanisms," he added.

A significant decision was to float a company with $50 million capital. "This company will take lead in studying projects and helping small and middle level enterprises on both sides," said Maqbool bin Ali bin Sultan, minister of commerce and industry, Sultanate of Oman.

He said the capital of the company may be very insignificant but it will play a pivotal role in promoting trade between two sides. The capital would be raised by the seven countries – the six GCC members and India.

The GCC participants felt that India's strength in technology and research and development would be of great help to the Gulf countries.

"For example, we spend millions on desalination plants. Instead of looking elsewhere, we can work with India on desalination and other such technologies," said Maqbool bin Ali bin Sultan.