The UAE and India have a robust economic relationship, which is underpinned and sustained by various bilateral agreements we have signed over the last years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the UAE this week comes at a time when relations between the UAE and India have never been warmer. The prime minister's visit is of strategic significance in our bilateral relations and follows on the heels of growing diplomatic, economic, energy and defence cooperation between our two countries.
Building on our millennia-old history of cooperation and exchanges - and with a current trade balance of around 60 billion dollars - the UAE and India have a robust economic relationship, which is underpinned and sustained by various bilateral agreements we have signed over the last years, including a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and a Bilateral Protection of Investments Agreement.
For the UAE, India is its second largest trading partner. The UAE is India's third largest trading partner. UAE companies have a long history and considerable experience in working in India. Emaar, DP World, Abu Dhabi's National Petroleum Construction Company, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, among others, have operations in India. Similarly, around 45,000 Indian companies operate successfully in the UAE.
The UAE deeply values the important contributions that the large Indian community living and working in the UAE has made to its economy and society. The number of direct weekly flights between the UAE and India - now over 950 - also evidences the strength of our people-to-people and economic ties. We look forward to further facilitating the movement of people and expanding aviation ties between our countries in the years to come.
We also have strong bilateral institutional mechanisms in place, which enable us to maintain a constant and constructive dialogue and to identify future areas of cooperation. Over the last two years, we have held meetings of the Joint Committee, of the Joint Consular Committee, of the Joint Committee on Security Matters, and of the High-Level Joint Task Force, which aims to explore investment opportunities between our countries.
The UAE looks forward to the next meeting of the UAE-India Joint Committee - a key platform for dialogue - on September 3, 2015, which will present yet another opportunity to reflect on what steps we can take to further increase links between the UAE and India.
From a foreign policy and regional security perspective, the UAE has placed India at the forefront of its international partnerships and recognises the importance of broadening a comprehensive dialogue with India that deepens and diversifies our areas of engagement. There are particularly strong opportunities for UAE-India security cooperation in combatting terrorism, which both our governments condemn in the strongest terms in all its forms and manifestations, as well as in the maritime domain.
The UAE feels strongly about the need to counter extremism and incitement to violence, and has recently passed legislation that bans hate speech and the promotion of violence. India shares our concerns over the rise of extremism. The barbaric ideology that extremists embrace threatens values that the UAE and India hold dear, and both our countries have a mutual desire to see the region and the entire world free of the scourge of extremism.
Our shared values and strong bilateral ties provide an important basis on which the UAE and India can elevate their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the UAE provides an opportunity to chart a new course in our partnership for the 21st century. We look forward to a productive exchange of ideas covering a wide range of economic, political and security issues of mutual interest.