India and Oman on Wednesday agreed to undertake a joint feasibility study, before going ahead with a preferential trade deal on limited goods.
A senior commerce department official said Oman had requested India for a preferential trade agreement on limited items, where both nations can discuss reduction in tariff of some items of export interest.
The development is taking place at a time when India is set to begin deeper engagements with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries towards inking a free trade agreement (FTA). GCC is a regional, intergovernmental political economic union comprising six countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“We are also negotiating a free trade agreement with GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, in which Oman is also a member… Oman will also be a party to the GCC FTA as and when it is concluded. Meanwhile, they suggested that they can consider a PTA. For that, India said both nations need to do a feasibility study jointly. That’s what has been decided today (Wednesday),” the department of commerce joint secretary Srikar Reddy told reporters.
Oman will be the second GCC member to work towards a trade agreement. India and UAE have already signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) in February.
The discussion on the trade deal and a joint feasibility study took place at the 10th session of the India-Oman joint commission meeting (JCM) in New Delhi, which was co-chaired by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and his counterpart in Oman Qais bin Mohammed al Yousef.
A 48-member delegation includes senior officials and business representatives from diverse areas spanning health, pharmaceuticals, mining, tourism, telecommunication, energy, shipping and real estate are in India.
Oman is India’s 31st largest trading partner. Bilateral trade has been witnessing robust growth increasing from $5.4 billion in FY21 to $9.94 billion during FY22, up 82.6 per cent. “With forward-looking and solution-oriented deliberations, the JCM witnessed significant progress on all matters of mutual interest across the entire gamut of bilateral economic relations between the two countries,” an official statement said.
One of the important outcomes of the meeting was fast tracking of approvals for registration of Indian pharmaceutical products already registered by USFDA, UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (UKMHRA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) during the deliberations.
Other outcomes include, joint release of a market research report commissioned by the embassy of India, Muscat on the pharmaceutical sector in Oman, highlighting strategies and opportunities for Indian companies in that country.
“Expression of commitment from both sides to facilitate trade and to comprehensively address all issues pertaining to tariff/non-tariff barriers. Agreement on expeditious conclusion of all MoUs/Agreements under discussion, including on standards and metrology, India-Oman Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, India-Oman Bilateral Investment Treaty, Invest Oman and Invest India, and Rupay card acceptance in Oman etc,” the statement stated these as the outcomes.