India, Qatar to focus on deepening trade ties in JWG meeting

New Delhi: The Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting between India and Qatar on trade issues is going to be held this week, which would work out ways and means to enhance bilateral trade by identifying and removing tariff and non-tariff barriers, including regulatory obstacles, in the bilateral exchange of goods and services, reported The Hindu Businessline.

This comes after a February meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, in Doha, whereby bilateral cooperation in sectors like trade, investments, energy, finance, and technology was agreed.

 “India wants to use the JWG meeting, led by senior officials from both sides, to initiate measures that would increase the country’s exports to Qatar in order to lower the trade gap with the country. The Commerce Department recently took inputs from various industry sectors for the agenda to push for at the meeting,” a source familiar with the matter told Businessline.

In 2023-24, India’s imports from Qatar amounted to $12.3 billion, while its exports were $1.7 billion, resulting in a trade gap of $10.68 billion. During the fiscal year, Qatar ranked as India’s 23rd largest trading partner.

The India-Qatar JWG meeting on July 10 is also notable as Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between India and the Gulf Coordination Committee (GCC) countries—including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain—have yet to gain momentum.

“With Qatar imposing a 5 per cent import duty on most goods, from textiles to food products, reducing tariffs would make Indian exports more competitive. While the India-GCC FTA might take time, New Delhi can attempt to persuade Qatar to lower import duties through bilateral talks,” an industry representative stated.

Imports from India to Qatar, with the help of direct shipping lines from Indian ports to Qatar, have shown some improvement in the past decade. However, there is still substantial scope for further expansions, an informed source said.


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