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'GCC-India trade can give opportunities for SMEs'

DUBAI: Small and Medium Enterprises(SMEs) are one of the fastest growing business segments in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and enhanced bilateral trade between India and the region presents vital opportunities for entrepreneurs, a leading banker has said. 

"GCC-India bilateral trade has increased from $145 billion in 2011-12 to $158 billion to 2012 - 2013 reflecting a growth of 9 per cent," said R Seetharaman, Group CEO of Doha Bank. 

"Increasing bilateral trade can give opportunities for SMEs to explore 
GCC market. Growing opportunities between GCC and Indian SMEs is vital for bilateral sustainability," Seetharaman said. 

"SME is one of the fastest growing segments in GCC. It contributes to over 60 per cent of the UAE's 
GDP and provides around 86 per cent of their employment in the private sector," he added. 

Elaborating on the bilateral trade relationship, the CEO said: "When compared to previous year in 2012-2013 the exports to India has increased from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait." 

Besides this, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain have increased their import from India and the latter is also in talks with GCC members to conclude a free trade agreement. 

Seetharaman also highlighted fast moving consumer goods, petrochemicals, infrastructure sector and agricultural and food processing as the areas where Indian SMEs can make inroads in the GCC market. 

He made these remarks while addressing the 
India SME Business Conclave on Saturday organised by Small and Medium Business Development Chamber of India in Mumbai. 

Doha Bank Group CEO was also conferred with the Best Banker Award for Supporting SMEs in Banking Sector on the occasion. 

Gulf Cooperation Council includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen.