One year of UAE-India Cepa: Top officials discuss historic agreement in documentary

UAE minister says the first year of the agreement has been highly successful for both nations


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 1 May 2023, 9:09 PM

They concur partnership for ‘growth’ has been delivered not just for both countries but for whole region

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa) that came into force exactly a year ago has not only fostered growth for the UAE and India but has also positively impacted the entire region, says a top UAE minister.

Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said this in a documentary that was jointly produced by the Emirates News Agency (Wam) and India’s national broadcaster Doordarshan India (DD India).

The documentary titled 'India-UAE Partnership: New Frontiers, New Milestones' was broadcast on Monday evening, marked the first anniversary of Cepa signed by the two countries.

DD India is part of an array of satellite channels of Doordarshan, which is operated by Prasar Bharati, India's state-owned public broadcaster. Following the broadcast on DD India, the documentary will be published on the website and social media channels of Wam.

In the documentary, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi said: “The first year of UAE-India Cepa has been highly successful for both nations and has consolidated one of the most important international relationships. We have delivered partnership for ‘growth’ not just for the UAE and India, but for the whole region. The impact on trade has been clear, with non-oil trade growing by 10 per cent in 2022 to surpass $49 billion and the early data from 2023 shows this trend is continuing.”

Cepa brings automation for greater prosperity

He reiterated that Cepa is “not just about one year”. He opined it would be regarded as a crucial turning point in the economic narratives, showcasing a global blueprint for international cooperation.

“Our goal was to create a platform for deeper cooperation between our nations that will reap considerable long-term rewards. In the past 12 months, it has helped to catalyse investment flows on joint ventures and priority sectors. The UAE private sector is committing billions of dollars to food security, renewable energy, logistics and retail projects right across India, while thousands of Indian companies are now registering with our Chambers of Commerce and finding new opportunities in our markets. The UAE-India Cepa has brought automation on path for greater prosperity. I truly believe the UAE-India Cepa will be seen as a key turning point in our economic stories on a global model for international collaboration,” Al Zeyoudi added.

Meanwhile, speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of this milestone, Abdulnasser Alshaali, Ambassador of the UAE to India, averrred key priority sectors have been identified that’ll be explored further to accelerate growth on both sides.

He said: “As time passes by, we will want to add more sectors to those (existing ones) and to see how we can promote engagement at the public-private level. We will also want to attract investments in both countries in a way that will connect the two countries not only through Cepa but also being important partners and continuing to do so in the supply-chain of different commodities and goods. Pharmaceutical is a big sector under which we are looking into vaccines. We are also looking at food processing as part of a wider food security engagement between the two countries.”

Explaining how work is likely to gain momentum on the proposed 'Bharat Mart' project this year, Alshaali said that is part of Cepa’s initiatives to promote trade and investments between India and the UAE. “It would be great to showcase Indian goods and products in the UAE not only for the UAE market but also to be exported to other markets. What we really want, going forward, is that the UAE should continue to be an integral part of the Indian global supply chain. Stay tuned with us, we are only starting.”


Strong personal connections between leaders

Dr Ahmed Al Banna, former UAE Ambassador to India, pointed out that the significance of strong personal connections between the heads of the two nations enabled effective cooperation and played a pivotal role in the successful negotiation and finalisation of the Cepa.

In the documentary, Dr Al Banna said: “I think this is due to the long-term vision of our leaderships…from the Indian side Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his long-term vision and from our side, the President, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. That special relationship, also, I would say, between the two leaders made it easier for the rest of the team to actually negotiate and finalise a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa), which eventually was signed. India was the first country the UAE signed a Cepa agreement with.”

Cepa is about trust and exploiting opportunities

Shedding light on the dynamism into the partnership that is showing immediate results, Sunjay Sudhir, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said in the documentary: “Cepa is a very significant agreement for both countries. For the UAE it’s the first Cepa ever. For us it’s a partner which is already our third largest trading partner, our second largest export destination. So, it’s very significant for us. If you see the last one year after the initial Cepa with India, the UAE has signed so many other Cepas or is in the process of signing so many other Cepas. So, it’s a trend setter in that sense and the results of Cepa is for all of us to see.”

The Indian ambassador drew attention to the fact that the trade figures between the UAE and India from April 2022 to February 2023 have already seen a healthy increase of 20 per cent (in bilateral trade).

He added: “As India’s financial year draws to a close, we are inching towards a bilateral trade of about $85 billion which I think is very impressive. In terms of overall trade, the way we both look at Cepa is that it is much beyond trade. It’s an issue of trust and about exploiting the opportunities between our countries whether it’s in the field of economics, investments or other opportunities in other areas like health, IT and so many other areas.”

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