The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is seeking to restart negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) with India, said Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

While India has signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the UAE, some countries have individually sought an agreement, The Financial Express, an Indian financial daily, reported, quoting the minister.

India and GCC agreed to explore an FTA in 2004; however, the process was abandoned after two discussions in 2006 and 2008.

“Our relations with the Middle East are on a growth trajectory. We are in dialogue with many GCC countries for greater engagement in trade. We have large investments coming from GCC countries,” Goyal said.

GCC is one of the top sources of imports for New Delhi. Imports from GCC countries were $133 billion in fiscal year 2023, up 20.3 percent year-on-year (YoY). On the other hand, exports were up 16.7% YoY to $51.3 billion.

In July, the UAE Ministry of Economy said bilateral non-oil trade reached $50.5 billion from May 2022 to April 2023, the first 12 months of the CEPA, a 5.8 percent increase YoY.

(Editing by Seban Scaria