India’s total trade with the 18 countries in the West Asia and North Africa (WANA) region has increased at a rapid pace in recent years and stood at USD 191 billion during 2013-14 (about 25 percent of India’s total trade with the world). India’s total exports to the WANA countries in 2013-14 stood at USD 61.8 billion (19.6 percent of India’s total exports to the world). At USD 129.2 billion, imports from the WANA region accounted for 28.7 percent of India’s total imports from the world in 2013-14.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) ranked first among the destinations for India’s exports in the WANA region and among the GCC countries (and second overall, after the US in 2013-14). The other major destinations in the WANA region include Saudi Arabia, Israel, Oman and Egypt. The UAE is a major entry point for Indian products transiting to other markets in the region. The growth has been impressive clearly indicating the demand for Indian products in this region. The mechanisms of Joint Commissions have offered institutional frameworks for pursuing bilateral interests. They need further strengthening to maintain a long-term sustainable trade relationship. A greater focus on trade promotion efforts in this region, is desirable.
This is a dynamically growing region with concomitantly high absorptive capacity for exports. Our ability to diversify exports to the region has been a significant factor in keeping India’s foreign trade growing even during the most severe phase of the global economic downturn. This region deserves greater focus in our trade policy, factoring in, of course, the effect of lower oil prices on the oil exporting countries of this region. India is negotiating two FTAs in the region, with Israel and with the six countries comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council.