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Indo-Gulf FTA talks to resume soon

August 27, 2008 13:56 IST

Ministers from India and the Gulf Cooperation Council will meet in Riyadh in the next two months to resume their stalled talks over a free trade agreement, a local newspaper has quoted an Indian official as saying.

Bharathi Sihag, joint secretary at the ministry of commerce of India, told Abu Dhabi's National newspaper that the date had almost been set: "We will be meeting very soon, next month or October."

The FTA between India and Gulf Cooperation Council has been delayed, ever since the first round held in March 2006, due to administrative reasons as the same set of officials are involved in talks with EU and Korea over similar trade pacts.

Sihag said the deal is unlikely to be agreed before next year's GCC-India Industrial Conference, which was expected to be held in Saudi Arabia.

"We are early in the talks," she said. "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."

The proposed resumption of dialogue follows the collapse of the Doha round global free trade talks in Geneva last month.

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

India is the world's fifth-largest consumer of oil, while Gulf countries import India's food and manufactured goods.

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