UAE Minister of Foreign Trade Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi recently met with Anand Sharma, India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, to discuss ways to develop and strengthen bilateral relations between the UAE and India in the commercial, economic and investment fronts.
The two sides discussed challenges faced by UAE investments into various Indian states such as Orissa as well as effective strategies for overcoming them in order to enhance joint investments between their countries. They also highlighted developments concerning the Free Trade Agreement being negotiated between the GCC and India, reviewing related issues covering trade in goods and services, rules of origin, investments, and dispute settlement. The two sides noted that a signed FTA would enhance bilateral trade and significantly uplift relations between the GCC and India.
The Ministers also expressed their satisfaction over trade and investment relations between their countries. They emphasized that recent economic developments in their respective states have created promising investment opportunities in various fields. These, they agreed, would enable companies from their nations to jointly establish projects that would support closer cooperation and mutually enhance development potentials and capacities.
Sheikha Lubna said that the UAE’s economic strengths, competitiveness, and development capabilities as reflected by its state-of-the-art port facilities alongside India’s rapid economic growth has helped fortify the strategic partnerships between the Emirates and India at the economic and commercial levels. She noted that India and the UAE are each other’s top foreign trade partners, adding that non-oil exports between the two countries amounted to USD 32 billion. This, she explained, is about 15 per cent of the total foreign trade volume of the UAE and is 56 per cent higher than the 2007 figure.
Sheikha Lubna reported the presence of more than 105 registered Indian companies in the UAE, many of which operate in the free zones. This, she pointed out, proved the diversity and excellent potential of trade and investment partnerships between the UAE and India. She also emphasized the important role played by the UAE’s successful economic diversification strategy in increasing the GDP contribution of non-oil sectors by 66 per cent in accordance with preliminary estimates.
She highlighted the positive effect of diversification in stimulating new growth sectors such as renewable energy, tourism and technology. She also emphasised exclusive and diversified investment opportunities in various sectors, especially in new non-oil businesses. The Minister urged Indian companies to take advantage of business and investment opportunities in the UAE and consequently promote investments into the Indian market.
For his part, the Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan commended the exclusive economic and trade ties between the UAE and India, saying that they exemplify desired relations between Arab countries and India. He also emphasised the importance of enhancing joint cooperation in order to develop substantial partnerships between the two sides.
The meeting was attended by Abdullah Ahmed Al Saleh, Director General of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Trade (MoFT); H.E. Mohamed Sultan Abdalla Al Owais, the UAE ambassador to India; and Mr. Manea Al Suwaidi, a MoFT official.