India, UAE march towards Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

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India, UAE march towards Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
India’s Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal and Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan discussed mutually beneficial ways to further consolidate the existing bilateral ties between the two countries across multiple platforms. Courtesy: ANI

Two countries examine further investment from UAE sovereign investment entities into key priority sectors in India. UAE-India Joint Task Force to work towards removing bottlenecks to further cooperation.

Bilateral ties between the UAE and India have been climbing to new highs particularly since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the UAE in 2015. Modi’s deep-rooted relationship with UAE leader His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces has resulted in enduring collaborations across multiple platforms but more chiefly towards the formation of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

In a meeting co-chaired by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, India and the UAE once again reviewed progress towards the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) discussing mutually beneficial methods to facilitate further investment from UAE sovereign investment entities in key priority sectors in India.

The ninth meeting of the UAE-India High-Level Joint Task Force on Investments met last Saturday to examine ongoing efforts to amend the longstanding Bilateral Investment Treaty and noted the importance of concluding the negotiation process as soon as possible.

Commenting on the meeting, Piyush Goyal said that India was optimistic about investment from the UAE in diverse sectors.
"India and UAE have longstanding ties which have become stronger in the recent times and our continued engagement even during the pandemic reflects the priority this partnership holds for both our nations," he said.

"Our leadership accords a special place to our relationship with the UAE and our bilateral forums like the Joint Task Force provide effective mechanisms to build on our long-standing friendship. Given the strong growth prospects of the Indian economy, we look forward to increased investment from the UAE in diverse sectors of India," he added.

Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal inaugurates the India Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020. The UAE and India will focus on bilateral economic ties that will deepen engagement.
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal inaugurates the India Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020. The UAE and India will focus on bilateral economic ties that will deepen engagement.Courtesy: ANI

In his remarks, Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that India and the UAE share a broad and deep strategic partnership, and this has helped bilateral economic ties continue to strengthen despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Joint Task Force offers an important platform for dialogue between our two countries, raising new opportunities for trade and investment, and removing bottlenecks to further cooperation. Looking ahead, India and the UAE share ambitious goals to expand trade and investment activities between our countries, and the Joint Task Force will continue to play an important role in achieving these objectives," he said.

The Joint Task Force was established in 2013 as a key forum for promoting economic ties between the UAE and India, which were further strengthened by the signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two countries in January 2017 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Promoting trade and investment

A statement released to the media said, "The progress of ongoing discussions for the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which will be a significant and wide-reaching step in promoting trade and investment between the two countries, was reviewed during the meeting. In this regard, both sides appreciated the efforts made to expedite discussions towards a well-balanced agreement that will considerably deepen bilateral economic ties and benefit the economies of both countries."

We have agreed for a dialogue between the UAE and the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund for speeding up investments. The excitement about increasing investment was across all sectors. There is a lot of interest around the brownfield projects. It was a very practical approach they demonstrated about investments.
- Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry

The UAE and India took into consideration the impact brought upon global trade and investment by the pandemic and reiterated the importance of strengthening their multi-layered economic ties.

"Both sides recognised the collaboration between India and UAE during this difficult period and appreciated the leadership provided by the two countries in their regions to confront the pandemic," the statement said.
The meeting reviewed the positive outcomes achieved through the work of the Joint Task Force to date, and the two sides agreed to continue exploring ways to facilitate investment in areas of mutual interest with the potential for economic growth.

"At the meeting, discussions were also held on exploring mutually beneficial methods and incentives to facilitate further investment from UAE sovereign investment entities in key priority sectors in India. The positive steps made by the Indian government in this context were noted and both sides agreed to continue to focus on ways of providing tax incentives to certain UAE sovereign investment entities," the statement said.

"During the meeting, participants also considered ongoing efforts to amend UAE and India's longstanding Bilateral Investment Treaty and noted the importance of concluding the negotiation process as soon as possible," it added.

The importance of active involvement from the UAE Special Desk within Invest India, the National Investment Promotion Agency of India, in expediting the resolution of both legacy issues and current difficulties experienced by UAE companies and banks in India was discussed in the meeting. India highlighted some long-standing issues faced by Indian investors in the UAE. Both sides agreed to continue coordination and cooperation at the highest official levels for the early resolution of these issues.

The Joint Task Force offers an important platform for dialogue between our two countries, raising new opportunities for trade and investment, and removing bottlenecks to further cooperation. Looking ahead, India and the UAE share ambitious goals to expand trade and investment activities between our countries…
- Sheikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the EC, Abu Dhabi

Normalisation of air transport operations

The two sides agreed to work on a priority basis to work for speedy normalisation of air transport operations between the two countries.
"Given the importance of air transport in facilitating bilateral ties and people-to-people connections, both sides agreed that their respective civil aviation authorities should continue to work together on a priority basis, for their mutual benefit, to ensure the speedy normalisation of air transport operations between the two countries," the statement said.

UAE authorities, logistics companies keen to invest in India

Praising the role of the UAE authorities and logistics companies keen to invest in India, Goyal said, "I feel very satisfied with the practical approach of the UAE authorities and the businesspersons. The logistics companies are extremely keen to invest in India. The authorities here have confidence in PM Narendra Modiji's decision-making abilities," he said.

"We have agreed for a dialogue between the UAE and the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund for speeding up investments. The excitement about increasing investment was across all sectors. There is a lot of interest around the brownfield projects. It was a very practical approach they demonstrated about investments.”

"I am overwhelmed by the excitement in UAE around investing in India. In a sense, they asked us to present many more opportunities around roads, railways and infrastructure projects. They've offered cooperation to bring down the cost of logistics in India," he said.

Goyal sees significant investment coming to India and a significant bump up in exports from India to UAE. "In the next one year of post COVID-19 period, I see a lot of interest in investing in infrastructure projects, monetization projects and some disinvestments. I see significant investment coming to India and a significant bump up in our exports from India to UAE," he said.

Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal addresses a press conference, in Dubai. He stressed that UAE companies have now stated that the investment processes in India have become clean and seamless.
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal addresses a press conference, in Dubai. He stressed that UAE companies have now stated that the investment processes in India have become clean and seamless. Courtesy: ANI

Adding that UAE companies have now stated that the investment processes in India have become clean and seamless Goyal cited examples saying, "Two-three big investors whom I met deeply appreciated the fact that now doing business in India is clean and honest. They said that now they don't have to worry about extraneous considerations. That is the biggest attraction, they said. One company said I want to invest in 25 locations in India to set up operations. I asked them how do you find it when you are working in India. He said that the best part of working it is absolutely clean," the minister adding, "I would like to express my gratitude to the investors in India who have let bygone be bygones but have a lot of positivity about the future. They have appreciated the role of bureaucracy in India, whose mindset has also changed significantly," he said.

The Indian expatriate community of around 3.42 million is reportedly the largest ethnic community in the UAE constituting roughly about 30 per cent of the country's population.

Approximately 15 per cent of the diaspora is in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the rest in six Northern Emirates including Dubai.

Goyal urged the business community to look at potentials where UAE can do business with India. "There are opportunities in gems and jewellery, diamonds, textiles, footwear. There is also a huge possibility in the food sector," he said.

- Inputs from ANI

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