Trade between India and GCC could treble: UAE minister

Wednesday, 18 February 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: Trade between India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries could easily double or even treble once the free trade area in the Middle East is established, said a United Arab Emirates (UAE) minister here.

UAE Finance Minister Mohammad Khalfan bin Kharbash said the Gulf nations are looking at India as an investment destination.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the India-GCC trade meet currently on in this Maharashtra capital.

"There will be more strategic alliances and we hope the private sector will take the lead in furthering economic ties," Kharbash said on the sidelines of the meet.

"The Gulf can look to India for expertise in areas such as information technology, entertainment and healthcare to begin with," Kharbash said.

"We already have ventures in the oil sector with India. It can be further taken to these areas and even in outsourcing," he added.

According to the minister, the two regions could also set up a free trade zone.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president Anand Mahindra said the Gulf could become the next important hub for outsourcing after the US and the West.

Speaking on the sidelines of the meet, Mahindra asserted that Indian companies could 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.

According to industry sources, trade between the UAE and India, which hit $4.5 billion in 2002-03, is set to grow further during the current financial year.

The UAE is the second largest trading partner of India after the US and the largest in the Middle East.

The GCC comprises the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The two-day GCC-India Industrial Conference began Tuesday. Around 150 GCC delegates are in this Maharashtra capital to attend the event.

Source: IANS
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