India, GCC eye strategic partnership in key areas

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by ejazr, Oct 17, 2010.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney
    India, GCC eye strategic partnership in key areas

    RIYADH: India and the GCC will form an action plan for a strategic partnership to forge ahead in several areas of cooperation. This was decided at the final meeting of the India-GCC Strategic Partnership Study Group held in Riyadh.

    Indian Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad said that the meeting was successful. There was a similar meeting in Dubai two years ago; Saturday's meeting concluded with a set of decisions on security, defense, politics, employment of foreign labor, education, culture, economy and others areas of cooperation.

    “The study was the outcome of years of research between the two groups,” said Ahmad, adding that it will be documented in book form. He also recalled the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the Kingdom which paved the way for the Riyadh Declaration.

    “India has always stood for the cause of the Arabs, particularly the issue of Palestine,” GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah said at the inaugural session of the meeting held at the GCC headquarters in Riyadh.

    The Indian team was led by Leela Ponappa, a former ambassador, former deputy security adviser and secretary to the National Security Council of India.

    Ambassador Khalid Al-Jandan, undersecretary for economic and cultural affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ahmad were present during the inaugural session of Saturday's meeting.

    Al-Attiyah said the meeting was held to explore new areas of cooperation in all areas. “All countries in the GCC as well as India are willing to participate in projects that would be of mutual interest. India is a country with an abundance of skilled staff supported by a rich knowledge economy which could be harnessed by GCC countries for their progress and prosperity,” he said.

    The volume of trade exchange between India and GCC countries exceeded $64 billion in 2009. The GCC states import a variety of goods including agricultural commodities, while India imports oil and gas in return.

    The other members of the Indian side included professor Zikr Rahman, director of the India-Arab Cultural Center; A.K.Pasha, director of West Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University; Atul Aneja, Middle East correspondent for The Hindu in Dubai; M. Prasanth, director of the Institute of Defense Studies; Sameena Hamid, assistant professor at Jamia Millia Islamia; and N. Janardhan, a foreign affairs specialist. In a paper presented by Hamid, it was pointed out that energy security is important for India as well as GCC countries. India’s energy security challenge comes from its high import dependence for oil and gas needs. Oil and gas imports not only feed its domestic industries, but also its exports of petroleum products.
  3. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

    Feb 23, 2009
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    This is good news. India has a lot to gain from trade with the GCC. Bahrain, in particular, offers a good opportunity to Indian investors wishing to expand overseas. It has a small, but prosperous, Indian community. And Bahrain has effectively dismantled restriction on foreign ownership of property. We also have a history of cooperation on foreign affairs. Oman, also, offers good opportunities for participation in sci & tech and emerging agricultural technologies. And both Oman and Qatar have always been faithful allies.

    On our side, we have to demolish bureaucracy, uphold some of the older MoU's and conventions that were signed and create good synergy on liquidity and capital flows. On their side, they have to deal with issues of labour movement, and cooperate greater with us on the political front.

    There is lots of potential for improvement, and an all-round FTA would do well to serve relations between the two lands.
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Learning to dance with India

    The relationship between the Asian giant and the GCC needs to be nurtured, not neglected

    For over a year and a half, I have been a member of a GCC-India joint research group that is composed of academics, former officials and diplomats from both the GCC states and India.
    The group engages in serious debates and holds meetings and sessions in the GCC states and India to find ways to chart a course for a stronger and lasting strategic partnership between the two powerhouses.
    Both the GCC and India have emerged as rising stars in their own right, with the largest GDP in a region that stretches from Spain to South Korea.
    There is more in common between the two sides than disagreements, and there is a lot of potential for a win-win formula if both sides play their cards well, allay the other side’s fears, accommodate each other’s demands and iron out some loose ends.
    What drives us is the genuine interest in cementing and strengthening our strategic interests and elevating them to a formidable partnership that benefits both sides, building on historical ties, geographical proximity and harnessing the mutual interests to be the driving force for both sides.
    This, in an era of blocs and alliances where fundamental changes are taking place at the international level. In a more multi-polar world, India is one of the major players, part of the famed BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and G20 groups and the GCC states are a powerhouse with responsible and moderate posture, sovereign wealth funds and contributions to international stability in terms of energy supplies and energy security in a world hungry for oil and gas.
    There are changes underway in this region as well. New actors, rising stars, energy demands, new venues for investments, trade, and joint ventures would be the signs of things to come.
    This project between the GCC states and the India is a bold attempt to chart future strategic ties. US intelligence predictions point out that there is “ [a] shift of wealth from west to east without precedent in modern history”. Some pundits go as far as to say that the 21st century will be an Asian century.
    As the GCC states collectively and individually implement their look-east strategy, India, along with China and other Asian giants, looms large and promises to strike a serious partnership.
    Considering that India and China and other Asian countries import more than 70 per cent of their energy needs from the Gulf region, there is no doubt that they have a future role to play in Gulf security in a globalised economy.
    Because of the economic meltdown and the rise of other stars — with demands and interests — who maintain good ties with Arabs and Iranians in the Gulf, it is possible to see a more international involvement in the region.
    The GCC’s substantial oil and gas reserves are of vital importance to India’s energy needs. In addition, the GCC countries host a large Indian expatriate community of more than five million who send $20 billion (Dh73.4 billion) out of the $60 billion transferred annually from the region. In short, the GCC states offer tremendous potential for cooperation in energy, trade, investment and manpower.
    It is no secret that the GCC states are collectively looking for ways to diversify and expand their pool of allies, friends and partners. What is worrying us in the GCC are regional uncertainties that could have negative consequences with regards to failed and fragmented states, WMDs, terrorism and nuclear proliferation, which would precipitate a nuclear arms race.
    From the perspective of GCC states, India has “the potential of being a major player and power on the international stage with its growing economy, high tech industry, and its large pool of young population”.
    As a recent article in the Irish Times put it, “India is so much more than ‘impossible to ignore’ ... This is the understated claim made for it by foreign secretary Nirupama Rao ... Seventeen per cent of the world’s population, 1.2 billion people, half of them under 24, live in the huge, vibrant and glorious mass of contradictions that is India. Its booming economy is expected to grow by nearly 9 per cent this year, double the global average and faster than China.”
    GCC states are aware of these facts and of India’s potential and future role. Their leaders have visited Asian countries in the past few years. India’s role has been highlighted in confronting a host of challenges around the world.
    Underscoring India’s potential and growing role and charting a future strategic alliance between the two sides, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during his visit to the GCC in 2008 insisted that “India viewed the Gulf as an intrinsic part of its broader neighbourhood”. Gulf states, which aim to diversify their security cooperation, have no quarrels over it, since they perceive India as a rising soft power neighbour with great economic, trade, investments opportunities, and which is a partner of the GCC in counter-terrorism efforts and securing energy supply routes. GCC Foreign Ministers in November 2008 issued a joint statement “supporting a collective joint cooperation with the major powers’ navies to safeguard and protect oil passages and maritime security against pirate attacks in the Sea of Oman, Red Sea and the Indian Ocean”.
    But, there are some issues in the relationship which need to be addressed and tackled if it is to move forward and come to fruition. These issues include India-Pakistan relations, and Kashmir, which was on the boil again this summer. Besides, India’s growing strategic relations with Israel and the close ties between the two countries has come at the expense of Palestinians, and has disappointed many Arabs. These issues need to be tackled and resolved.(But they will love to lecture india on its internal issues and its diplomatic relations with other countries which concerns them.So India will be lectured by a bunch of medieval states about its image)
    On a bilateral level, India’s dragging of its feet on the signing the Free Trade Agreement with the GCC states is a nuisance and should be addressed seriously by the Indians. This contentious issue between the two sides could stand in the way of a full strategic cooperation and is perceived by the GCC states as deliberate stalling, especially since the FTA was signed back in 2004. Trade between the two sides stood at $28 billion in 2007 and is projected to exceed $40 billion in 2010. But after three rounds of talks over the FTA, there seems to be little progress because of India’s insistence on protecting and safeguarding its domestic chemical and petrochemical industries to help give it an advantage over the competition from GCC’s low crude oil cost. This violates the principles of FTA and GCC states object to this.
    What has been alarming from the GCC states’ point of view was the new controversy that caught everyone by surprise and triggered negative coverage about India. It was the call by the Indian representative at the Manama Dialogue in December 2008 to GCC states to consider Indian expatriates as immigrants and not expats, which could entitle them to political rights and citizenship. This caused a lot of consternation, which can have far-reaching consequences if not addressed in a more accommodating and understanding manner by the Indians, considering how sensitive the issue of the large Indian expatriate presence in the GCC is.
    Furthermore, three of the six GCC states have more foreigners than native inhabitants. No country in the world will tolerate or accept this huge imbalance between its natives and foreign population. As one GCC labour minister noted, it is “the most threatening security challenge faced by the GCC states, even worse than a war.”
    In the final analysis, India, from the GCC’s perspective, could provide added value in terms of all these opportunities. Furthermore, GCC states feel at ease in dealing with India. This is because India — and China — have no political agenda, and make no criticism of GCC states over political reforms. India does not carry any political baggage; it also does not impose its values or preach political reforms or interfere in the GCC’s domestic affairs. It is a win-win situation for both parties that could be the foundation for moving this relationship forward.(They dont want to get lectured by india on their internal issues.ok fine .)
    Both the GCC states and India have a lot at stake. Both sides want to cement their strategic relationship. But India has to be cognisant of the fact that it has to meet the GCC states half-way through and address the contentious issues. Both sides should see eye-to-eye and be willing to cooperate and leverage their shared goals and interests to underpin their future relationship on a mutually beneficial formula in a changing world with multi-polar actors and rising and falling stars.
    India is not “impossible to ignore” but it deserves a central role in future strategy of GCC states as they weigh their options in looking east. But India has to work on its image and address all the relevant issues GCC states have been raising and want answers for. On the other hand, GCC states should address India’s needs and interests and expand and deepen their strategic ties with India beyond energy, trade and expatriate workers.
    Dr Abdullah Al Shayji is the Chairman of the Political Science Department-Kuwait University
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    India, Oman to boost economic, energy ties

    2010-10-19 19:10:00
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    New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) India and Oman, the Gulf country which is home to over half a million expatriate Indians, will Wednesday discuss ways to scale up economic and energy ties when External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna holds talks with his Omani counterpart Yusuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah.

    Bin Abdullah arrives here Wednesday on a three-day visit. He will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday.

    The focus of the visit will be on expanding economic and defence ties, official sources said. Counter-terror cooperation will also be discussed.

    The two sides will discuss expanded cooperation in diverse sectors, including agriculture, infrastructure, hospitals, power, mining, oil and gas, education, tourism, healthcare, chemicals and fertilisers.

    They are expected to discuss the the India-Oman Joint Investment Fund, which was started in November 2008 with a seed capital of $100 million and is likely to be increased to $1.5 billion.

    Trade and investment between India and Oman have been growing in the last few years. Trade touched $4.5 billion last year, while total bilateral investment is worth $7.5 billion.

    India is the fifth largest source of imports into Oman. Oman's investments in India have exceeded $200 million. In 2008, major Indian companies, independently or in collaboration, bagged contracts worth $836 million in the Gulf country.

    It is not just economic engagement that is growing. The two countries decided to step up defence cooperation by upgrading their joint naval exercises during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Oman in 2008.
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Abu Dhabi: Etihad Airways Offers Free UAE Visa for Indian Passengers

    Abu Dhabi: Etihad Airways Offers Free UAE Visa for Indian Passengers

    Media Release

    Abu Dhabi, Oct 19: Etihad Airways is offering free visas to people travelling from India to Abu Dhabi, as part of a special promotion of the airline’s visa processing service launched with TT Services in May this year.

    Citizens and residents of India travelling on Etihad Airways to Abu Dhabi can take advantage of the offer by booking a flight to the UAE between October 15 - November 15, for travel between October 20 – December 15.

    The two types of visas offered free of charge are Tourist visa for 30 days and Entry Permit for 14 days. Customers need to apply for their free online visa through TT Services at

    Neerja Bhatia, General Manager of India for Etihad Airways, said: “We are committed to offering our guests a simple, convenient and streamlined travel experience when travelling with Etihad Airways and this includes the booking and visa process.

    “We have received very good feedback regarding the ease and simplicity of the service since we launched earlier this year, and we are pleased to promote the service to our Indian passengers free of charge for this period.”

    TT Services is a focused visa outsourcing service provider in India, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Sweden, Russian Federation and the UAE. The company was the first in India to offer visa support services to consulates and embassies in India and has over nine years of combined experience in providing visa support services.

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