INDIA&UAE: Two Nations, One Mission

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India-UAE trade relations go back centuries when the two countries used to engage in barter trade of pearls and dates. Over the years, the relations have deepened immensely encompassing all sectors. The bilateral relations further strengthened in 1971 when the UAE Federation came into place … writes Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India to the United Arab Emirates

The historical people-to-people contacts between India and the UAE laid the strong foundation for special and friendly relations. The Indian community has been proud residents and very involved with the growth and development of the UAE.

India-UAE trade relations go back centuries when the two countries used to engage in barter trade of pearls and dates. Over the years, the relations have deepened immensely encompassing all sectors. The bilateral relations further strengthened in 1971 when the UAE Federation came into place. On December 2 this year, as the UAE celebrates its Golden Jubilee since its historic unification, India is equally looking forward to the occasion.

India is UAE’s second largest trading partner, and the total volume of trade was estimated at USD 59 billion in 2019-20. Given the global impact of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the trade between the two countries had reduced to USD 43 billion in 2020-21. Despite the challenges, India and the UAE are working together relentlessly to ensure long-term growth in the coming years.

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The UAE has been an important supporter of India for over five decades and continues to be an integral strategic partner. India’s major exports to the UAE include polished diamonds and jewellery, petroleum products, food items, textiles, engineering and machinery products, and chemicals. Since UAE has a strong positioning as a leading oil & gas destination, India’s top imports from the UAE include petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, metals, gems and precious metals, chemicals, plastics, transport equipment etc. As of 2019-2020, India has imported USD 10.9 billion worth of crude oil from the UAE.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE in 2015, both countries agreed to set up India-UAE Infrastructure fund with an aim to reach US $ 75 billion investments into India’s infrastructure sector and since then, significant investments from UAE have been made in the last few years.

To strengthen the trade ties, India has commenced negotiations with the UAE to conclude a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which will help in leveraging the complementarities in trade between the two countries and see a quantum jump in the bilateral merchandise trade as well. The CEPA will also create new jobs, raise living standards, and provide wider social and economic opportunities in the two countries. Both India and UAE are optimistic to deepen the trade ties despite the inherent challenges. As the two nations recover from the repercussions of the pandemic, the bilateral trade is gradually seeing signs of picking up and is expected to reach pre-covid levels soon.

With the grand opening of the Expo 2020 in Dubai on October 1, the UAE has become the first country in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia to host a World Expo in the 170-year history of the mega-events, which is also the biggest event to be held in the Arab World. The Expo 2020 Dubai has been a catalyst to ensure the collaboration between India and the UAE continues to grow and strengthens further. The synergies, shared vision and complementary strengths of India and the UAE present a rare opportunity to contribute to the progress of not only our two countries, but also for the larger region and the world.

To make Expo 2020 Dubai a global success while ensuring the greater good of humanity, the UAE has taken steps that have reformed the way the world looks at the pandemic. The country has successfully established itself as one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. In line with UAE’s mission of combating the pandemic, India has also closely followed suit by administering nearly 1.2 billion vaccine doses with the capability of producing more than five billion COVID-19 vaccines by the end of next year. Both India and the UAE are working towards creating a larger impact for the greater good of the world.

Expo 2020 Dubai is a crucial global platform to showcase India’s state-of-the-art innovations. In line with this mission, India Innovation Hub at Expo 2020 Dubai is an initiative aimed towards featuring unicorns and start-ups working across sectors providing technology-centric sustainable solutions. India created 36 Unicorns in the last one decade, this year it is expected to create another 36, making it the second largest creator of Unicorns in the world for 2021, after the US.

UAE has shared its vision of creating 20 Unicorns in the next 10 years. India and the UAE are natural partners to co-create innovation for India, for UAE and for the world. India-UAE partnership is poised to create together the next generation of Unicorns which would help address global challenges. India-UAE relationship is truly at an inflection point.

The year 2021 has been an important milestone as India is celebrating its 75th year of Independence and the UAE is celebrating its 50th year of its formation. This auspicious year is a stepping stone to an even stronger strategic partnership that will resonate with success in the years to come.

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