Economic partnership deal will help India, UAE to serve larger international markets

Filed on October 2, 2021
Piyush Goyal the UAE and India are true friends. — PTI file photo

CEPA will serve the people of both countries, provide jobs in both countries, expand economic activities and help us serve the larger international markets in a bigger way

The proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and UAE will help both countries serve larger international markets, according to a top Indian official.

In an exclusive interview with Emirates News Agency (Wam), Piyush Goyal, Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, and Textiles, said: “It [CEPA] will not only help the post pandemic recovery and bring back growth into both countries, but also serve the people of both countries, provide jobs in both countries, expand economic activities and help us serve the larger international markets in a bigger way.”

Interim agreement by January

Talking about the possible conclusion of the agreement, he said an interim agreement is expected by January.

“We have very tight timelines by the end of this year. By early January [2022], we hope to have the interim agreement in place along with the contours of the larger Comprehensive Economic Partnership. And we do believe that, maybe by March or April, we should be able to operationalise at least the interim agreement, so that a large part of our business can be covered,” he said.

He affirmed that the UAE and India are true friends. "At the same time, there’s a huge trust between the two countries. Keeping that in mind, we do believe that the trade that we are doing today has immense potential to grow in the future.”

As Wam reported earlier, the value of the UAE’s non-oil trade with India may rise from pre-pandemic levels of $40 billion to over $100 billion within five years of signing the CEPA.

India is now the UAE’s second-largest trading partner, accounting for nine per cent of the UAE’s total foreign trade and 13 per cent of non-oil exports. During the first half of 2021, bilateral trade reached $21 billion – a growth rate of more than 70 per cent compared to the first six months of last year.

Huge benefits for people and businesses

Goyal said he had extensive discussions on CEPA with Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, during his India visit last month.

“We both came to the conclusion that a Free Trade Agreement [FTA/ CEPA], including an interim agreement in the immediate future, will help kick start at least on those areas where there is common understanding, and operationalising at least part of that FTA quickly will reap huge benefits for the people and businesses in both countries,” he explained.

“Dr Thani is a hard taskmaster. I also like to work speedily, and both our leaders , Prime Minister Narendra Modi and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan [Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces], are both leaders on a mission,” Goyal stressed.


Asked India’s negotiations with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on an FTA, the minister said: “We had started negotiations long back and for a long period we talked to various countries in the GCC. But since there was not much progress and the UAE was willing to negotiate and it culminated quickly right now. We are working with UAE now. I hope at an early date the GCC also will show interests and we can work with the GCC for a free trade agreement.”

Expo shows UAE’s resilience

The minister praised the UAE for hosting Expo 2020 Dubai in the current challenging time.

“My compliments to the government in UAE for embarking on such an ambitious project despite the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. It shows the resilience of the government and the people of UAE, which I deeply respect.”

The India pavilion’s ideal location at Expo 2020 is a testimony to the UAE’s friendship with India, emphasised Goyal who inaugurated the pavilion on Friday evening, in the presence of senior Indian and Emirati officials.

India pavilion location shows UAE’s friendship, trust

“I would like to place on record India’s deep appreciation of the friendship and trust that the UAE leaders have placed on India by supporting India, giving us a large piece of land at one of the best strategic locations, and helping us through this difficult period, in setting up one of the best pavilions that you will see at the Dubai Expo.”

The Dubai Expo is an opportunity for India to showcase itself for what it truly is, the minister noted.

“India is an emerging technology-based economy with full of young entrepreneurs, educated boys and girls, skilled manpower. Our start-up ecosystem is becoming the envy of the world. The Dubai Expo gives us an opportunity to showcase all of this to over 190 countries.”

UAE cared Indians during pandemic

“I believe that the UAE and India are traditional friends, partners and I may say ‘brothers.’ We respect each other. We like each other’s country and more particularly in the middle of the pandemic, the UAE took care of over 3.4 million Indians as if they were their own and we must acknowledge and thank all of you for what you did for all our Indians living here,” the minister said.

The minister is confident that the future is bright for the two countries.

“The leaders trust each other and they have very strong bond of friendship and brotherhood. The people of both countries trust each other and work together very seamlessly. I am convinced that this is an enduring relationship which has a bright future!” he concluded. — Wam

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