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05 August 2011

A third of India’s trade is with the Gulf

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By Shafeeq Rahman

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is the second largest inter-governmental organisation after the UN with membership of 57 states spread over four continents. Member countries include Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Cameroon, Kazakhstan, Somalia, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and the Maldives. The OIC has also approved major Muslim-populated strategic countries as observers, like Russia, Thailand and Bosnia. India has not got a similar status because of territorial disputes with Pakistan. India’s relations with the OIC worsened after the OIC announced a Special Envoy on Kashmir on September 28, 2009. India strongly condemned it and clarified that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and that the OIC has no locus standi in matters concerning India’s internal affairs. The OIC again commented on the Jammu & Kashmir issue and linked it with other disturbed countries in the resolutions adopted during the 38th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Kazakhstan from 28-30 June 2011.

In spite of this diplomatic tension, India has historic, strategic, economic and cultural ties with OIC countries at an individual country level and in particular with Gulf and mena (Middle East and North Africa) countries. India’s bilateral relations with most Muslim countries are strong and based on mutual cooperation and respect. India’s semiskilled and professional labour flow, and a substantial share of Indian citizens living abroad, is concentrated in Malaysia and the Gulf countries. During 2010, India’s labour flow to OIC countries is estimated at 6,41,351. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Malaysia, Bahrain, Libya, Jordan and Sudan are the top employer countries for Indian labour among OIC countries.

India is also a leading trade partner with OIC countries, particularly with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria and Malaysia. The total trade with OIC countries during 2009-10 is reported to be Rs 7,50,554.55 crore, exports worth Rs 2,51,898.18 and imports worth Rs 4,98,656.35. India mainly exports machinery, electrical stuff, vehicles other than railway, iron and steel, pearls, plastics, cereals, aircraft, pharma products, animal products, cotton and aluminum products.

It imports mineral fuels, fertilisers, chemicals, etc. Arab countries are a major source of India’s energy needs. Saudi Arabia and UAE are the leading suppliers of oil and minerals to India. A third of India’s trade is with OIC members. The trade analysis of the top ten OIC countries with India is given in the adjacent table.

Besides trade, bilateral investment between India and OIC countries has also increased manifold. The UAE, Indonesia, Oman, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco, Kazakhstan and Kuwait have invested in projects worth $3328.96 million. The top investment destinations for Indian companies among OIC countries were Malaysia, UAE, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh, as of June 2011. Indian companies invested $469.97 million last month in OIC countries, which constitutes ten per cent of India’s overseas investment. India signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Malaysia, which came into effect on 1 July 2011. It is a comprehensive and ambitious agreement that envisages liberal trade in goods and services and a stable and competitive regime to promote foreign investment. Also, major OIC countries have bilateral investment promotion and protection agreements (BIPA) with India.

[Shafeeq Rahman is a professional researcher on India-centric socioeconomic and political databases. He can be contacted at rahman.shafeeq@gmail.com]

(Courtesy: Tehelka, India)

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