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24 July 2024

UAE-India trade may hit $100bn in 2020

By Wam

India is considered to be the UAE’s primary trade partner, accounting for about 9.8% of its total non-oil trade. India is also the largest importer of goods from the UAE, buying about 14.9% of that country’s exports and about 8.7% of its re-exports, becoming the second-largest market of the UAE in the latter category.

India ranks third among countries that export to the UAE, accounting for about 9.2% of the total imports by the UAE. The total volume of foreign trade between the two countries amounted to $60 billion in 2014, making the UAE India’s primary trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa. Economic sources expect the value of trade exchanges between the UAE and India to hit $100 billion in 2020.

In a report on economic and trade relations between the UAE and the Republic of India, the Ministry of Economy recommended the strengthening of bilateral relations, increasing of the volume of joint investments and expansion of bilateral trade to make the United Arab Emirates India’s primary trade partner. The Ministry said the trade and investment sectors constitute the cornerstones of prosperous bilateral economic ties between the UAE and the Republic of India.

The Ministry also said there are abundant and feasible opportunities for economic co-operation and the establishment of joint ventures between the UAE and India, and that every economic facility is a viable opportunity for establishing partnerships as they all have the necessary factors, such as expertise, modern technology, funds and energy. This encourages both countries to discuss possible partnerships and form specialised committees that can supervise the implementation in a way that serves the interests of both parties.

In its report, the Ministry of Economy also stated that the Framework Agreement on Economic Co-operation between the Republic of India and the Gulf Co-operation Council that took place in August 2005, aimed at exploring the possibilities of establishing a free trade area between the two parties, was a quantum leap in trade exchanges between the two parties. GCC countries are important trade partners of India and account for more than 11% of India's global exports, a figure that continues to grow. This agreement may also be the key to more comprehensive co-operation between the two parties in various fields.

The report said that India is the seventh largest economy in the world with a total GDP (at current prices) worth about $2,182.577 billion in 2015, according to World Bank statistics, achieving growth of up to 6.4% from 2014.

The report also said India is one of the developing Asian economies that have maintained their economic position despite the global financial crisis, as a result of the large fiscal stimulus offered by its policies and its pursuit of a policy to reduce interest rates on monetary policy tools, as well as the rise in its industrial production and its decreasing reliance on exports.

Statistics issued by the World Trade Organisation in its 2015 World Trade report indicated that India ranked 19th in the world in terms of exports, worth $317 billion, and accounting for 1.7% of the global exports. It also ranked 12th in the world with imports worth $460 billion, accounting for 2.4% of the world’s imports.

Based on the data in the World Investment Report issued by UNCTAD, the Ministry’s report said that India ranked 10th in the world in terms of attracting foreign direct investment, placing it among the top nations of the world in this category. This is due to several reasons, such as the fact that India is one of the largest economies in the world, its strategic position, its rapidly growing consumer market, and its large skilled and trained labour force that is cost competitive, as well as its industrial sector that is one of the largest in the world, covering all industrial activities and fields, large manpower of scientists, engineers and technicians, besides rich agricultural and mineral resources.

The report also said India had excellent infrastructure, an advanced financial sector, an investor-friendly political and commercial environment offering amenities and tax incentives and facilitating import and export, and an advanced legal environment that allows ease of capital transfer and usage of brand names, in addition to exemption from income tax on profits made from exports, as well as full exemption from customs duties on industrial imports.

The report highlighted the many diverse sectors that attract foreign direct investment in the Republic of India, such as financial and non-financial services, wired and wireless communication, transportation and the industrial sector, oil, chemicals, construction services and the pharmaceuticals sector, as well as food processing services, cement products and electrical equipment.

The report also focused on the availability of large areas of arable land in India, as it is the seventh largest country in the world in terms of area. India is considered to be one of the largest food producers, among the largest sugarcane and tea producers and the second-largest producer of rice, fruits and vegetables.

India is also one of the world's leading countries in the production and consumption of food products due to its population, which is the second largest in the world, thus providing tremendous opportunities for investment in the food processing sector. The pharmaceuticals sector also occupies a central role in the Indian economy.

The report also indicated that the Indian automobile industry has begun to sweep the world markets, where India has become the second-largest manufacturer of tyres, the fifth-largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles and the fourth-largest passenger car market in Asia. It is also the largest producer of tractors in the world.

Tourist services are among the largest service industries in terms of total revenue and foreign exchange earnings. The wired and wireless telecommunication sector in India is the third-largest in the world and the second-largest among the emerging economies in Asia. It continues to grow at an unprecedented pace, and is considered one of the main sectors responsible for economic growth in India.

India is one of the important and influential countries in terms of world trade volume, as it ranked 12th in imports and 19th in exports in 2014, according to International Trade Centre statistics.

The value of India’s exports amounted to nearly $310.34 billion in the 2014-2015 period, compared with $314.41 billion in the 2013-2014 period, registering a 1.29% drop in value. Forty-three per cent of its exports were concentrated in 10 commodities in the 2014-2015 period.

India’s most exported commodity was petroleum oil and oil extracted from bituminous minerals, worth a total of $55.93 billion, accounting for about 18% of its total exports and registering a 10.7% drop from the previous year. Diamonds came in second place, worth $24.23 billion in exports, accounting for about 7.8% of the country’s total exports and registering a 7.3% drop from the 2013-2014 period. Jewellery and precious metals were in third place, worth $13.2 billion in exports, accounting for about 4.3 % of its total exports and registering a 22% increase from the previous year.

In the 2014-2015 period, India's imports decreased by 0.48%, amounting to $448.03 billion, compared to $450.2 billion in the 2013-2014 period. Fifty-four per cent of its imports were concentrated in ten commodities. The most imported commodities were petroleum oil and raw bituminous mineral substances, worth $116.44 billion and accounting for 26% of the total imports, an 18.9% drop from the 2013-2014 period. Gold, in raw, semi-fabricated or powder form, came in second place, with a total value of $34.4 billion in imports, accounting for about 7.7% of the total imports, a 20% rise from the 2013-2014 period.

The report addressed the economic relations between India and the UAE, stressing that the UAE economy attracts investment due to many reasons, such as the economic and political stability in the country, its status as the gateway to regional and international markets, the abundant investment opportunities it offers, as well as its excellent geographical location, readily available infrastructure and ease of investment procedures in various sectors.

India ranked second in terms of the cumulative value of foreign direct investment in the UAE, with US$5.7 billion being invested in 2013, a 20.4% rise from 2012.

The report also included data of the UAE’s investments abroad that were surveyed by the Ministry of Economy. It confirmed that the UAE is the largest investor in India from the Arab world, accounting for 81.2% of the total Arab investments in India. The UAE also ranked 11th in the world in terms of foreign direct investment in India. The total sum of the UAE’s investments in India is estimated to be about $8 billion, including $2.89 billion as foreign direct investment.

The UAE’s investments in India are mainly concentrated in five sectors: construction development (16%), energy (14%), metallurgical industries (10%), services (10%), and computer software and hardware (5%). Other sectors are petroleum products, precious metals, precious stones and jewellery, as well as metals, chemical materials and wood and wooden products.

The report said DP World is one of the oldest Emirati companies operating in India, where the company runs 34% of all container terminals. Emaar MGF’s investments in India have risen to nearly $2 billion, and it has emerged as a leading company in the Indian real estate sector.

The Ministry of Economy’s report said there’s an early-stage discussion happening between INMOBI, one of the largest electronics companies located in Bangalore, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the Qatar Investment Authority to enter into a partnership.

The report also said that the UAE, the GCC and India are bound by agreements and Memoranda of Understanding. In September 2015, the India-UAE Joint Business Council was inaugurated by UAE Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

In addition, Memoranda of Understanding were signed between the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and the Metrology and the Indian Standards Institute; between the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India; between the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the UAE and the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development for co-operation in the field of higher education and scientific research; and between the National Council for Tourism and Antiquities in the UAE and the Ministry of Tourism in India; besides the Federation of United Arab Emirates Chambers of Commerce and Industry and India.

In January 2014, the UAE and India signed an air transport services sector agreement, allowing specified carriers from both countries, whether owned or rented, to make regular trips. In 2013, the UAE, represented by the Ministry of Finance, also signed an investment protection and promotion agreement with the Republic of India, in addition to a convention on economic co-operation among the GCC countries in 2005, where nine meetings were held, most recently in June 2007 in New Delhi. A convention on the avoidance of double taxation between the two countries was also signed in 1992.

The report also addressed direct foreign non-oil trade between the UAE and India. It said there was a 21% decrease in the total value of bilateral trade in 2014, compared with 2013, as a result of a 33% decline in the UAE’s re-export traffic, dropping from $8.6 billion in 2013 to $5.8 billion in 2014.

National exports also fell by 31% during the same period, while the country's imports from India decreased by 12%. This decline has affected the value of trade balance, where the deficit has increased from $3.45 billion in 2013 to $6.29 billion in 2014.

The report also indicated a 16% decline in the total value of the UAE’s free zone trade with India in 2014, compared with 2013, as a result of a 59% decline in the UAE free zone export traffic, the value of which dropped from $738 million in 2013 to $304 million in 2014.

Free zone re-exports also dropped by 28% during the same period, while free zone imports from India dropped by 3.5%. This decline has affected the trade balance, with the deficit increasing from $1.9 billion in 2013 to $2.8 billion in 2014.

The report said the total value of the UAE's non-oil exports to India amounted to about $5.3 billion in 2014, a 31% drop from 2013. Gold, in its raw, semi-fabricated and powder forms, accounted for 59% of the total non-oil exports to India, worth a total $3.16 billion, a 46.6% drop from 2013. This was followed by direct ornaments and jewellery, worth $364 million in exports, a 41% rise from 2013, and copper wire exports, worth $319 million, registering a 26% rise from 2013.

India is considered the UAE’s third-largest trade partner in terms of imports, worth about $17.4 billion in 2014, a 12.4% drop from 2013.

Sixty-seven per cent of the imports in 2014 were concentrated in 10 commodities. Gold, in all its forms, topped the list of imported goods, with a total value of $4.6 billion, accounting for 26.4% of the UAE's total imports from India, a 1.5% drop from the previous year. Diamond came in second place, worth about $3.2 billion, a 47% drop from 2013. Jewelry came in third place, worth $2.1 billion, a 30% rise from the previous year. It is also worth noting that the country's imports of wheat rose by 179% in 2014.

In 2014, the UAE’s re-exports to India decreased by 32.8%, compared to 2013, due to a 32.3% decline in the country’s re- exports of diamonds, a 73.3% decline in the re-exports of precious and semi-precious stones, and a 57% decline in the value of re-exports of silver in its raw, semi-fabricated and powder forms, in addition to an 82% decline in the re-exports of telephones, despite a 6566% rise in the re-exports of hard drives and tapes.

The report addressed a number of indicators specific to the Indian economy. The value of foreign direct investments in India reached about $34.4 billion in 2014, a 22.1% rise from $28.2 billion in 2013. In contrast, Indian investment overseas rose from $1.68 billion in 2013 to touch nearly $9.8 billion in 2014, an 87% rise.