GCC eyes trade pacts in South Asia

The Gulf Cooperation Council is expected to sign framework economic cooperation agreements with India and Pakistan, according to the head of the oil-rich Gulf bloc.

    Abd Al-Rahman al-Atiyya (R) said free trade deals would follow

    The deals will pave the way for "launching negotiations to establish two free trade areas between the GCC and the two friendly countries", India and Pakistan, Secretary-General Abd Al-Rahman al-Atiyya said in a statement issued by the GCC headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday.

    Al-Atiyya will visit India and Pakistan between 24 and 27 August to "participate in signing the two agreements", the statement added.

    The Confederation of Indian Industry, a leading industry body, signed an agreement with the GCC last February aimed at boosting trade.

    GCC member states Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also hoping to conclude a long-stalled free trade agreement with the European Union.

    EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said in June he hoped the EU and the GCC would forge the deal by the end of the year.

    The two blocs signed a framework economic cooperation agreement in 1998, but had failed to strike a free trade pact.



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