Gulf Cooperation Council
India begins talks on free trade agreement with UAE. India has started talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) with the UAE, with expectations of a larger pact with the group of Gulf Cooperation Council.
Gulf Cooperation Council
- GCC was established by an agreement concluded in 1981 among Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE in view of their special relations, geographic proximity, similar political systems based on Islamic beliefs, joint destiny and common objectives.
- The structure of the GCC consists of the Supreme Council (the highest authority), the Ministerial Council and the Secretariat General.
- The Secretariat is located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
- It is a political, economic, social, and regional organisation according to its charter.
India’s Relations with the GCC
- The governments of the GCC members are India-friendly and Indian-friendly.
- The Prime Minister of India has received the ‘Order of Zayed’ the highest civilian order of the UAE and the ‘King Hamad Order of the Renaissance’, the third-highest civilian order of Bahrain.
- In the recent past, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have not adopted hostile posture to India’s domestic developments such as removing the special status for Jammu & Kashmir under article 370.
- The GCC states are among India’s key suppliers of energy, and annual remittances from Indians in these countries are worth an estimated USD 4.8 billion.
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia are India’s third and fourth-largest trading partners respectively and the total bilateral trade of the GCC countries with India for the year 2018-19 stood at USD 121.34 billion.
- UAE also features in the top 10 sources of FDI inflows into India.
- Both India and the GCC are members of the Financial Action Task Force
- Apart from the participation of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, and others in India’s mega multilateral Milan Exercise, India also has bilateral exercises with most of them.
- India and Oman hold annual bilateral exercises across all three wings of the armed forces (Army Exercise ‘Al Najah’, Air Force Exercise ‘Eastern Bridge’, Naval Exercise ‘Naseem al Bahr’). Furthermore, Oman has provided the Indian Navy access to the Port of Duqm SEZ which is one of Indian Ocean’s largest deep-sea ports.
- India has a bilateral naval (In-UAE BILAT) as well as an air force exercise (Desert Eagle-II) with the UAE.
- The Gulf region has historical, political, economic, strategic and cultural significance for India. India-GCC Free Trade Agreement (FTA) can provide a boost to the relations.
- Presently, the GCC region is volatile thus, India needs to safeguard its large economic, political and demographic stakes in the region.