UAE-India ties on cusp of big leap: Piyush Goyal

Allan Jacob, Abhishek Sengupta/Dubai
Filed on October 3, 2021 | Last updated on October 3, 2021 at 12.15 am

Discussions on comprehensive agreement in the final stages

The UAE and India have assiduously built and nurtured their strategic relationship to one of ‘brotherhood’. They are now rapidly expanding ties to include trade and commerce with discussions on a comprehensive agreement that is in the final stages, said Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal during an interview with Khaleej Times on Saturday.

“We launched discussions in September and expect to conclude a deal in three months. The contours will be ready by the year-end,” said the minister, who was upbeat about the prospects of the UAE-Indian Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The benefits of the deal, the ‘fruits of the agreement’ will be reaped in the first quarter of next year, said the minister.

He said this is a record and the speed at which the two sides are moving forward speaks of ‘positivity’, ‘complementarity’ and ‘reciprocity’.

“In a post-pandemic world, this special relationship, the foundations of which were laid seven years ago, is a harbinger of the better times,” Goyal said.

Earlier in the day, the 9th Meeting of UAE-India High Level Joint Task Force on Investments was held between the two delegations. The UAE was led by Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi.

“Infrastructure we monetise assets to raise funds…we provide the demand, the opportunity…the UAE has investment surplus. They have to deploy that fund somewhere.”

So if there is demand in a country, which is a democracy, like India, where there is rule of law and transparency, it is a natural fit, said the minister. The two are, in fact, natural allies, he added

“Returns in India, in terms of long-term relationships, are valuable returns, beyond profit and loss. That’s the complementarity between the two nations,” said the minister.

No turning back

Businesses on both sides will push and influence the agreement. There’s no turning back, he said.

On past investments by the UAE in India that went sour, the minister said it was probably due to ‘bad partner selection and ‘lack of due diligence’. He stressed that foreign investors will not face difficulties with transparency now built into the process.

There’s been a change in the attitude of investors here, he said. “The response from UAE investors has been beyond my imagination during this visit.”

That’s because whatever was initiated since 2019 has been put on the fast track and projects have been implemented. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking active interest in UAE-India ties, and is keen to assuage UAE concerns.

Ambitious relationship

The efforts by India to ensure adequate food supplies to the UAE, even during the most strict lockdown last years, has elevated the relationship.

“We had instructions from the Indian PM himself..there should not be one complaint from the UAE. Everything the UAE requires, we should provide, including medical supplies, were the instructions,’’ said the minister.

The UAE reciprocated, with DP World sending liquid medical oxygen quickly when India needed it the most during May and June. “DP World was there to provide it to us in our hour of need.”

This is indeed a special relationship and it encourages the UAE and India to be ambitious for the future, he said.

Discourse on SMEs and big business

On the business scenario in India, the minister agreed that he’s sparking a discourse in India, yet maintained that he’s keen to strike a balance.

“Everybody has a role to play and everyone can co-exist. There is an advantage of technology which does not mean small business get left out.”

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