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The past few years have seen phenomenal, accelerated growth in the bilateral relations between the UAE and India, two countries that share decades-long deep-rooted ties, strengthened through cultural exchange, trade and political engagement.
Driven further by their rapidly growing economic and trade relations, the UAE and India have developed a distinguished model through their multi-faceted partnership, which is made possible thanks to the foresight of the two leaderships and their ongoing support to expanding their bilateral cooperation.
This growth testifies to the UAE’s forward-looking and proactive approach to boosting its economic ties with the world and forging trade alliances with key markets. As part of this strategy, the country launched the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPA) programme in September 2021, which encompasses its CEPA with India, highlighting the rapid advancement in their relations.
The UAE-India partnership is a driver for economic growth that creates trade and investment opportunities for over 3.8 billion people. The economic partnership contributes to the vitality of trade and investment flows in South Asia and through it towards regional and global markets.
In 2022 and 2023, the bilateral ties between the two countries witnessed key milestones that strengthened their mutual partnership.
May 2022: UAE-India CEPA
The UAE-India CEPA, which came into effect on 1st May, 2022, was a great turning point in the two countries’ relations and benefitted Emirati businesses.
These include a reduction or waiving of tariffs on over 80 percent of UAE goods exported to India, enabling Emirati businesses to trade more freely and fairly across the Indian border. Meanwhile, service providers now have enhanced market access across 11 vital sectors and over 100 sub-sectors.
The agreement aims to facilitate trade between UAE and India by eliminating unnecessary technical barriers (TBT) for UAE and Indian exporters, using international standards as a basis for technical regulations. It also offers UAE businesses access to Indian government procurement opportunities, along with a 10 percent price preference in UAE government procurement tenders.
Under the CEPA, the two countries established a Joint Committee to assess, revise and propose amendments to the CEPA, including improving market access.
September 2022: 14th Session of UAE-India Joint Committee Meeting
The meeting of the 14th of the UAE-India Joint Committee was chaired by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, representing the Emirati side, and Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s Minister of External Affairs, representing the Indian side.
On the sidelines of the meeting, the two sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Wildlife Institute of India and the International Fund for Houbara Conservation in the UAE. Furthermore, the two top diplomats attended the signing of an MoU between the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs of India on the establishment of the UAE-India Cultural Council Forum.
February 2023: UAE-India-France tripartite alliance
Last February, the UAE, France and India announced a new trilateral cooperation initiative, and the roadmap to begin its implementation. In a joint declaration after a phone conversation, the three countries affirmed that the trilateral initiative would serve to promote the design and execution of cooperation projects in various fields, including energy and combatting climate change.
The initiative will also serve as a platform to expand cooperation between the three countries’ development agencies on sustainable projects, as well as to organise a range of trilateral events in the framework of the Indian Presidency of the G20 and the UAE’s hosting of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in 2023.
Through this trilateral initiative, the UAE, France and India will ensure that this trilateral initiative will be leveraged as a platform to promote cultural cooperation, through a range of joint projects, including heritage promotion and protection.
May 2022: Partnership in Renewable Energy
In May 2022, the UAE and India agreed to work together to combat climate change with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), in which they pledged to support each other’s efforts to meet commitments made under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The two sides agreed to established a partnership between their public and private sectors to collaborate on climate action, by focusing on increasing renewable energy and green hydrogen, creating carbon markets, improving agricultural efficiency, and supporting sustainable finance.
May 2023: New Opportunities, Joint Promotional Activities
During his visit to India, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, held talks with various Indian ministers, officials and business leaders. He met with Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, and G. Kishan Reddy, Minister of Tourism and Culture, to explore ways to boost the two countries' economic and trade relations.
The discussions focused on increasing and diversifying their mutual investments and explored new sectors, such as renewable energy, telecommunications, infrastructure, roads, real estate and startups.
The two countries also agreed to enhance and broaden their current economic ties, by launching new innovative projects that help businesses tap into the potential of their markets, and boost the development and outreach of startups in each country, by offering them more benefits and incentives to raise their GDP contributions.
Several Emirati officials attended the annual conference of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi. At the conference, the global investment platform, Investopia, announced a new collaboration with the CII by signing an MoU, which aims to share expertise, organise trade missions, showcase knowledge resources, and highlight attractive investment opportunities in the Indian and Emirati markets in emerging economic sectors. Moreover, the two sides will organise joint events and conferences to foster communication between their business communities.
June 2023: US$100 billion annually non-oil trade volume target
During the first CEPA Joint Committee meeting held last June, the UAE and India set a target of US$100 billion in non-oil trade by 2030, according to Goyal.
Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said the CEPA had a positive effect on bilateral trade and investment, noting that the non-oil trade between the two countries reached US$45.5 billion in the first 11 months after the agreement took effect on 1st May, 2022, a 6.9 percent rise from the same period in the previous year.
CEPA signing anniversary
June 2022 marked the first anniversary of the UAE-India CEPA signing. A high-level delegation, headed by Dr. Al Zeyoudi, attended the inaugural meeting of the CEPA joint committee.
The two sides agreed to operationalise the established committees, sub-committees, and technical council under the CEPA and launch a new sub-committee on Trade in Services. Additionally, it was agreed that the mutual exchange of preferential trade data would take place on a quarterly basis in order to ensure effective monitoring of the CEPA.
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