//India-Gulf Cooperation Council CECA meeting on May 24-25

India-Gulf Cooperation Council CECA meeting on May 24-25

Press Trust of India, New Delhi, May 1, 2006

India is likely to take up with the Gulf Cooperation Council, the issue of few of its members reserving jobs in some sectors for locals during a meeting of the Trade Negotiating Committee of India-GCC Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement from May 24.

Some countries in the GCC like Oman are gradually reserving sectors for employment of locals only and the issue is likely to crop up at the two-day meeting of TNC, Commerce Ministry Joint Secretary MVPC Shastry said at a FICCI meeting.

Besides, discussions are also likely at the meeting on the mandatory requirement of a local partner, IPR protection and banking.

India and GCC has signed the Framework for Free Trade Agreement in 2004 and has now upgraded it to CECA by including trade in services and investment, besides goods.

Shastry said there had been no decision as yet on whether there would be country-wise negotiations or with the grouping as a whole on harmonisation of rules.

GCC includes Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates.

Making a presentation on India-GCC trade and investment potential, Ram Upendra Das of RIS suggested a single Bilateral Protection Agreement with the grouping, besides setting up of a trilateral expert group with representatives of business and industry on board for negotiations.

India-GCC trade stood at $16 billion in 2005-06, without taking into account oil trade, which stood at $46 billion.