Trade is at the heart of the India-UAE relations - Hindustan Times
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Trade is at the heart of the India-UAE relations

Sep 05, 2023 09:51 PM IST

Prime Minister Modi’s July visit to the UAE marks only the first step in a reinforced commitment to deepening bilateral relations between the UAE and India

Later this week, New Delhi will host the most significant global forum in its history. The United Arab Emirates is proud to participate as a special guest of India. The G20 summit comes just two weeks after another significant global event, the Brics grouping is expanding with the UAE becoming a full member in January 2024. Becoming a member of an extended Brics grouping reflects the UAE’s keenness to champion the value of multilateralism in supporting peace, and development for the benefit and the wellbeing of peoples and nations across the world.

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photograph during an official visit reception at Qasr Al Watan, Abu Dhabi, UAE, July 15, 2023. (via REUTERS)
UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photograph during an official visit reception at Qasr Al Watan, Abu Dhabi, UAE, July 15, 2023. (via REUTERS)

The UAE and India have long-established strong and robust strategic relations, rooted in cultural and economic ties that have developed over many years. Following the official visit to the UAE in July by Narendra Modi, a new chapter in our relations is being written, with a deeper level of cooperation and strategic partnership, to unlock a future with unlimited potential for both our nations and peoples. Notably, the leaders agreed to enhance bilateral partnership in renewable energy—including green hydrogen, solar energy and grid connectivity—among other areas.

In 2017, the UAE-India relationship was formally elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the visit of UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to New Delhi as chief guest at India’s Republic Day ceremony. Today, the UAE-India relationship is even stronger and broader, as evidenced by mutual tourist visitation numbers, the still-growing cross-cultural and economic ties, and the significant numbers of Indian and UAE companies that operate in both countries. Indeed, according to FDI Markets, the comprehensive online database of cross-border investments, since 2003 there have been 217 UAE firms investing in India and 698 Indian companies investing in the UAE.

Based on this foundation, the UAE’s first ever comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) was signed with India in February last year, and came into force in May 2022. The two nations are launching a new era of economic and trade collaboration. The Dirham-Rupee Trade Agreement showcases both nations’ commitment to further enhancing ties and will encourage increased bilateral trade between the UAE and India, accelerating progress toward the target of USD 100 billion in non-oil trade by 2030. Including oil, India-UAE trade was already at USD 85 billion in 2022, making the UAE India’s third-largest trading partner and India's second-largest export destination.

Through the dirham-rupee trade agreement, the bilateral relationship will be taken to the next level, with tangible benefits including easier cross-border trade payments with lower transaction costs. Under this agreement, a UAE importer will be able to make payments in dirhams at market exchange rates and vice versa for Indian companies, without having to go through currency exchanges, making it easier to trade. Ultimately, this agreement opens a broad range of opportunities that provides more choice to businesses.

Trade is central to the UAE’s efforts to stimulate long-term, sustainable economic growth and cement the UAE’s position as a global economic hub – with CEPAs now also in place with Indonesia, Israel, Türkiye and Cambodia, with more under discussion. The CEPA helped UAE-India bilateral trade grow 16% and reach an all-time high in fiscal year 2022-23.

The UAE has been named the fourth-largest investor in India in 2022-23, a significant rise from the seventh position a year ago, further reflecting the increased commitment to encouraging mutual growth. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority has announced plans to establish its presence in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), India’s first financial services special economic zone, to further facilitate investment opportunities for the UAE in India.

The UAE ranked tenth among 64 economies measured for their global competitiveness in the 2023 IMD World Competitiveness Ranking, published by the World Competitiveness Center for the 35th consecutive year. Indian corporations who do business in the UAE find investor-friendly legislation and a stable, secure, low-tax environment making it an ideal business destination.

In line with our nation’s ambitious vision for sustainable growth, the UAE will continue to expand trade links with partners around the globe. At the heart of this growth strategy is foreign trade, which will play an integral role in the UAE’s efforts to increase the size of our economy by 2030. The UAE’s strategy is based on the belief that strengthening economic partnerships is a catalyst for new opportunities that support the ambitions of our people, enabling economic growth, development, and innovation that benefits all.

The UAE will continue to build bridges with all nations that share a common vision to build economic growth and a sustainable future. With India holding the presidency of the G20 forum this year, and the G20 summit set for this week with the ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future' theme, the Global South and allies around the world must further enhance cooperation to address the challenges facing societies and to improve the lives of people.

The UAE-India relationship will be further enhanced by increasing people-to-people relations in areas such as education and culture. The Indian Institute of Technology Delhi’s Abu Dhabi campus is set to open in 2024, underscoring the drive for bilateral cooperation and deepening inter-personal ties between our countries.

Moreover, with the UAE set to host the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), the UN’s key convention on climate change, in Expo City Dubai this November, key objectives include accelerating energy transition, reforming land use and food systems, and scaling up both mitigation and adaptation and operationalizing loss and damage. The conference will also focus on key pillars such as the implementation of climate commitments and pledges, working together to take concrete action, identifying solutions that contribute to overcoming challenges and seizing opportunities to ensure a sustainable future for present and future generations.

COP28, the most significant multilateral event the UAE will have ever hosted, aims to transform and accelerate climate action to meet the world’s commitment to limiting global warming to below 1.5°C and lead the world's response to the Global Stocktake. Enhanced UAE-India collaboration will therefore support the advancement of key objectives across a broad range of areas. In addition, the UAE also remains focused on deepening collaboration with other partners around the globe to support a sustainable future for all, along with mutual continued growth.

Prime Minister Modi’s July visit to the UAE marks only the first step in a reinforced commitment to deepening bilateral relations between the UAE and India. Together, we are committed to our role as global conveners as we advance and protect the environment and the economy on behalf of our peoples for today and the future.

His Excellency Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh is minister of State to the UAE. The views expressed are personal

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