India highlights growing UAE ties and trade after landmark deal

NEW DELHI: India highlighted on Tuesday its growing bilateral relations with the UAE, after the nations’ foreign ministers held talks in New Delhi following a series of high-level meetings between the two countries this year.

India and the UAE signed earlier this year a landmark deal, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which went into force in May. The pact reduces tariffs on almost 80 percent of all goods and provides zero-duty access to 90 percent of Indian exports.

The UAE is India’s third-largest trading partner after the US and China, with a bilateral trade volume of $43.3 billion in 2020-21. It is also home to more than three million Indian expats, who send billions of dollars in remittances to their families each year.

“Appreciated the progress in our bilateral relationship, especially in trade, investment, consular matters, education and food security,” India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar said in a tweet after meeting his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

India’s Foreign Ministry said India-UAE bilateral trade has shown “appreciable growth” under the free trade pact, with Indian exports reaching $16 billion between April and September of this year, an increase of about 24 percent.

The UAE has also invested over $10 billion in India in the last couple of years, data from the ministry showed.

The ministry said India is exploring opportunities for further cooperation in education, with the country’s leading engineering college, the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, having had talks with its UAE partner, ADEK, to establish a campus in Abu Dhabi.

“In line with the UAE-India CEPA, we are seeking to boost our economic cooperation to achieve our ambitious goal of raising our non-oil trade value to around $100 billion in the next five years,” Al-Nahyan said, as reported by Emirates news agency WAM.

The ministers also discussed India’s G20 presidency, “and ways to enhance the UAE’s participation in the group’s activities,” WAM reported, while the talks also focused on ways to increase cooperation in energy, healthcare, defense, space, climate change and start-ups.

“The ties have expanded exponentially in recent times with this being the fourth meeting this year so far. The ties are growing not only in the economic domain but also in the areas of defense and security,” Mudassir Qamar from New Delhi-based think tank, the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, told Arab News.

“The UAE has emerged as one of the most important partners of India.”

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