Wednesday April 24, 2019
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Swaraj pushes India-GCC Free Trade Agreement

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

New York: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks with her counterparts from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) whose nations she said were “an extended part of our neighbourhood”, in a move to further cement ties with the Arab world.

At the meeting here on Wednesday, Swaraj called for the early finalisation of the India-Gulf Cooperation Council Free Trade Agreement and making the India-GCC Framework Agreement operational.

Foreign ministers of Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Oman along with GCC Secretary General Rashid Al Zayani attended the 9th ministerial-level meeting.

Briefing reporters, External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Vikas Swarup said that Swaraj invited the GCC nations to participate in the ‘Make in India’ campaign, in particular the Mumbai-Delhi industrial corridors.

She also called for turning the buyer-seller relationship in the energy sector into a “mutually beneficial investment partnership” that involves both upstream and downstream operations.

Security issues and the threat posed by terrorism also figured in the discussions. She urged them to work for an early conclusion of the Comprehensive International Convention on Terrorism.

The GCC is India’s largest trading partner with $137.7 billion trade in 2014-15, up from 5.5 billion in 2001. More than 50 percent of India’s oil and gas come from the GCC countries that host 7 million Indian nationals.

 

(With inputs from IANS)

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China Opposes Washington’s Decision On Iran Oil Sanctions

The United States quit the deal in May 2018, and renewed U.S. sanctions have hit Iran's economy and contributed to the fall of the national currency, the rial.

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Iranian oil worker
An Iranian oil worker rides his bicycle at a Tehran oil refinery. RFERL

Beijing has lashed out at a U.S. decision to impose sanctions on countries that buy Iranian oil, warning that it will intensify turmoil in the Middle East and in the international energy market.

“China firmly opposes the U.S. implementation of unilateral sanctions and its so-called long-armed jurisdiction,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at an April 23 press briefing.

The White House announced on April 22 that the United States will not renew exemptions granted in 2018 to five buyers of Iranian oil — top customer China as well as India, Turkey, South Korea, and Japan — pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran.

The exemptions, or waivers, allowed the five countries to buy Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions. The White House has said that the decision to end them is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports — a key source of revenue for the authoritarian government — to zero.

The United States has said it was working with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the largest oil exporters, to ensure the market was “adequately supplied.”

China
“China firmly opposes the U.S. implementation of unilateral sanctions and its so-called long-armed jurisdiction,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at an April 23 press briefing.
VOA

Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main regional rival, welcomed the U.S. decision to end all Iran sanctions waivers by May.

“Saudi Arabia fully supports this step…as it is necessary to force the Iranian regime to end its policy of destabilizing stability and its support and sponsorship of terrorism around the world,” Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said on April 23.

Japan has said it expects a limited impact from the U.S. decision.

“We will closely watch international oil markets and exchange views with Japanese companies involved in crude imports and may consider taking necessary measures,” Japan’s trade and industry minister Hiroshige Seko said on April 23.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said on April 23 that the United States will not succeed in cutting the country’s oil exports to zero, telling parliament that Iran will work “with all our might…toward breaking America’s sanctions.”

A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the U.S. decision on April 22, calling sanctions “illegal” and saying that the country “did not and does not attach any value or credibility to the waivers.”

oil refinery
The White House announced on April 22 that the United States will not renew exemptions granted in 2018 to five buyers of Iranian oil — top customer China as well as India, Turkey, South Korea, and Japan — pressuring importers to stop buying from Tehran. Pixabay

The European Union said on April 23 it “regrets” the U.S. decision, warning that it would further undermine a 2015 agreement between world powers and Iran that granted Tehran sanctions relief in exchange of restrictions on its nuclear program.

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The United States quit the deal in May 2018, and renewed U.S. sanctions have hit Iran’s economy and contributed to the fall of the national currency, the rial.

The EU will “continue to abide by [the deal] as long as Iran continues with full and effective implementation,” EU foreign policy spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said. (RFERL)