India, UAE could sign comprehensive trade deal by March

Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the Minister of State for Foreign Trade who was in New Delhi to launch CEPA negotiations with India said
Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury that a comprehensive and mutually beneficial agreement can be concluded by December 2021 and that an agreement can be signed in March 2022 subject to the completion of legal procedures and ratification by both parties.

The United Arab Emirates have been among India’s major trading partners. Could you clarify the current state of negotiations between India and the United Arab Emirates on the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement?
India is a key economic partner for the United Arab Emirates and trade has existed between our nations for centuries. India is also our second largest trading partner, accounting for 9% of the UAE’s total foreign trade and 13% of non-oil exports. We predict that the value of the UAE’s non-oil trade with India will rise from pre-pandemic levels of $ 40 billion to over $ 100 billion within five years of signing an agreement.

Today, we officially launched the negotiations to jointly establish the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and the United Arab Emirates. It will strengthen ties, deepen economic and investment opportunities and mark a new phase of strategic cooperation between the two countries. Now that talks are underway, we are optimistic that an agreement can be reached quickly. Piyush Goyal and I are pleased with the progress we have made to date. We look forward to the next round of productive talks.

What sectors will be covered by CEPA? Will the service sector be included in CEPA, as Indians are the backbone of the service sector in UAE?
The UAE aims to establish bilateral trade agreements of a comprehensive nature. They include trade in goods, services and closer cooperation in priority areas that support our growth and sustainable development. India has an attractive and competitive service sector which makes a significant contribution to the country’s GDP. The specific areas that will be included in CEPA are still under discussion and will be finalized in due course as the talks progress.

Do you have a timeline in mind for concluding CEPA? How will the UAE CEPA with India be different from CEPA with other countries?
India and the United Arab Emirates share the ambition to use trade as a catalyst for economic growth and prosperity. Both sides aspire to conclude the negotiations quickly and constructively. We are optimistic about the possibility of reaching a comprehensive and mutually beneficial agreement by December 2021. This will give us sufficient time to sign an agreement in March 2022, subject to the completion of legal procedures and ratification by the two parts.

What investment opportunities is the UAE exploring in India?
The United Arab Emirates and India have a global investment partnership built on decades of growing collaboration. Today, the UAE is the 9th largest investor in India with over $ 18 billion in committed funds, while India’s investment in the UAE was around $ 8 billion in 2019, this which represents about 6% of foreign direct investment in our country. The UAE-India High Level Joint Working Group has continued to explore areas to promote economic activity between the two countries and we will meet again at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Bilateral investments have been directed to strategically important sectors, such as services, maritime transport, electricity, infrastructure, real estate, health care and telecommunications. We see great potential not only to expand in these areas, but also to explore new ones by committing capital to future industries like agrotech, artificial intelligence, green infrastructure and renewable energy.

What role do you see for Indians in UAE in the future and are new opportunities opening up for Indian professionals and workers?
The Indian community is an important part of the multicultural society of the United Arab Emirates. Over 3.5 million Indian nationals have made the UAE their home, and over 4,000 businesses, from startups to multinational corporations, operate in real estate, retail, manufacturing, media and more.

We understand that attracting the best and brightest minds is inextricably linked to the sustainable development of our knowledge-based economy. To this end, we recently launched the UAE Strategy for Attracting and Retaining Talent, which aims to strengthen our position as a preferred destination for living, working and investing. We are also revising our visa system and offering new long-term residence visas. This has already benefited many expatriate Indian investors and entrepreneurs.

Earlier this week, for example, Dubai-based Indian philanthropist Joginder Singh Salaria received a gold visa for his humanitarian work. This is one of the many cases demonstrating the prospects for Indian professionals and workers who are making a positive social or economic contribution to the UAE. There are huge opportunities for talented people all over the world in UAE.

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