India and six Gulf nations sign pact to boost trade

MUMBAI - India said yesterday it is keen to reduce its trade dependence on Western nations as a leading domestic industry body signed an accord with a Gulf business group to boost commercial ties.

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 18 Feb 2004, 9:54 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 11:54 PM

The Confederation of Indian Industry and the AGCC representing the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia signed the agreement to try to increase two-way trade.

"We want to boost our trade between the two regions and not just depend on trade with the developed nations," said Indian Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a two-day economic conference in Mumbai, attended by ministers of the six Gulf nations that winds up today.

"The Gulf can look to India for expertise in areas such as information technology, entertainment and healthcare to begin with," UAE Minister of Finance Mohammed Khalfan bin Kharbash said.

"We already have ventures in the oil sector with India. It can be further taken to these areas and even in outsourcing," the UAE minister said, adding the two regions could also set up a free trade zone.

Confederation of Indian Industry president Anand Mahindra said "the two trade blocks can change the economic geography of the world and we need not depend for trade only on the US."

He added Indian companies could also seek outsourcing contracts from the Gulf amid growing concern in the West about shifting jobs overseas.

"At a time when you have the West objecting to such contracts, the Gulf can be a good opportunity," Mahindra said. "Areas such as information technology, entertainment, healthcare and downstream oil and gas projects can (also) be sectors for investments by both partners."

He added trade relations should should get a boost from the large presence of Indians in the Gulf.

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