Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade recently launched in Bangalore, the final leg of a promotional tour across India aimed at enhancing trade and investment relations between the two countries. The tour, organised by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Trade, featured a 43-member strong UAE delegation visiting the Indian cities of Mumbai, New Delhi and Hyderabad, before proceeding to the South Indian city of Bangalore. Held under the theme “Why UAE?,” the tour is being accompanied by several high-profile UAE officials, including Mohammed Sultan Al Owais, UAE Ambassador to India; Abdullah Ahmed Al Saleh, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Trade; Saeed Khammas, Vice President of the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry; and Abdullah Sultan, Secretary General of the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Raj Kumar Khatri, Commissioner for Industrial Development and Director, Commerce and Industries Department, Government of Karnataka, was part of the Bangalore leg of the tour.
The UAE delegation also included representatives from the UAE Central Bank; the Departments of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi and Dubai; the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority; the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company; the Free Zone Authorities of Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah; the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority; Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry; and the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. UAE-based private national companies, foreign banks and multinational firms as well as Indian businessmen, investors and company representatives also participated in the event.
In a speech delivered during the Bangalore tour, Sheikha Lubna emphasized the mutual importance of strategic commercial partnerships between the UAE and India. She noted that commercial exchange between the two countries was estimated at more than USD 32 billion in 2008, representing around 15 per cent of the UAE’s total non-oil foreign trade for the year. Her Excellency added that India is the UAE’s top commercial partner in terms of non-oil exports, posting USD 4.9 billion in related exchange in 2008 to surpass the 2007 figure by 49 per cent. Inviting the business establishment of Bangalore to invest in UAE, she said Indian companies could enjoy benefits like free trade zones, attractive tax structures and abolition of minimum capital requirement for establishment of limited liability companies and advanced infrastructure.
The UAE Minister said that India also came in first in terms of re-exports for the same period at USD 10 billion and 2nd in imports at around USD 17 billion. She also stated that the Emirates’ non-oil sectors accounted for more than 66 per cent of the national GDP last year compared to 63 per cent in 2008, affirming the success of the country’s economic diversification policies.
Unfolding the investment opportunities for Indian companies, Manea Al Suwaidi, Director, UAE Ministry of Foreign Trade, said investment prospects are open in several sectors like environment, insurance, particularly health insurance, transportation, healthcare, sports and tourism. With UAE proposing to connect all its seven emirates through rail link, the opportunity for investment in this sector would also be attractive, said Mr. Suwaidi, while pointing out that UAE is focusing on increasing its non-oil sector trade. Ambassador of UAE in India Mohamed Sultan Abdulla Al Owais said the UAE wants to deepen its relationship with India as the two countries have a historical bond.
Sheikha Lubna also underlined the importance of Bangalore in enhancing the strategic partnership between the UAE and India especially in the fields of technology and trade. She pointed out that the UAE and Bangalore both attract hundreds of international companies from the technology domain, a factor that could significantly contribute to creating opportunities for technological cooperation between the two countries. She said that the six-day tour created opportunities to identify vast prospects for joint investment cooperation between the two sides, benefiting mutual relations between the two countries in the short and medium terms.