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July 27, 2005
New Delhi

PM launches "Look West" Policy to boost cooperation with Gulf

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has authorized the Union Commerce and External Affairs Ministries to begin negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to conclude a India-GCC Free Trade Agreement. He has also approved negotiations with individual member countries of GCC, namely, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement covering services sector and investment.

Chairing a meeting of the Trade and Economic Relations Committee (TERC), Dr Singh said, "the Gulf region, like South-East and South Asia, is part of our natural economic hinterland. We must pursue closer economic relations with all our neighbours in our wider Asian neighbourhood. India has successfully pursued a Look East" policy to come closer to the countries of South-East Asia. We must, similarly, come closer to our western neighbours in the Gulf."

India's "Look East" policy has facilitated negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement with members of ASEAN. India recently concluded a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Singapore and is negotiating an FTA with Thailand. India has an FTA with Sri Lanka and is committed to a South Asian FTA (SAFTA). The new initiative towards the GCC member countries will bring the economies of the Persian Gulf closer to India.

The TERC meeting was attended by External Affairs Minister Mr. Natwar Singh, Finance Minister, Mr. P Chidambaram, Commerce and Industries Minister, Mr. Kamal Nath, National Security Advisor, Mr. M K Narayanan and senior officials of the Government of India and the Prime Minister's Office.