This week has been a historic moment for the United Arab Emirates and India. In ushering in the new year with the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the United Arab Emirates and India, our two countries and peoples confirmed a truth that we have known for many years: through cooperation enhanced, we will continue to enjoy the immense prosperity and opportunities that await us as partners.
CEPA is as much an economic partnership agreement as it is a testimony to the fraternal relations that our two countries have maintained since the establishment of our diplomatic relations in 1972. In fact, the beginning of our bilateral relations predates our diplomatic engagement, with a centuries-old trading history.
As our ancestors traded goods and crossed the ocean in search of contact and cultural exchange, they set the stage for the thriving relationship we see today. In fact, India – the world’s fifth largest economy – is the UAE’s largest trading partner in terms of exports, accounting for $26.8 billion or 10.8% of its total exports in 2019. That same year , India was the ninth largest recipient of foreign direct investment from the UAE with an inflow of $51 billion. Additionally, the UAE and India signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement in January 2017 to establish an ambitious roadmap for political and economic cooperation.
Today, the UAE is taking bold steps to strengthen its economy and that of the wider region by improving and expanding bilateral relations with key partners. Our goal is to double the size of our economy over the next decade and continue to attract some of the best human capital in the world, and foreign trade will be a key pillar of this development.
The whole world is an open market connected by logistics and the free flow of trade. To further expand these economic channels, CEPA boosts market access and facilitates the movement of talent around the world.
The CEPA model is central to the UAE’s efforts to build our economy over the next 50 years and cement our position as a global economic hub. It also reflects our goal to further develop partnerships that are mutually beneficial to both the UAE and business partners who are also invested in shaping the economy of tomorrow.
As such, CEPA represents a turning point in the economic trajectory of our country. Having recently celebrated 50 years of its founding as a nation, the UAE is now eager to embark on the next chapter of international engagement. With India in particular, such cooperation is a logical step in consolidating our bond. The UAE is already one of the top 10 investors in India, and the deal will help boost our partnership while unlocking the new Asian future and advancing the South-South Corridor.
What tangible benefits will CEPA bring to businesses and citizens in our two countries? First, it will trigger increased investment flows, lower tariffs and create huge new opportunities for key sectors in India and the UAE including air transport, environment, investment, trade digital, etc.
Second, CEPA will make it easier than ever for the globalization of small and medium-sized enterprises in our countries by giving them access to new customers, networks and avenues of collaboration. The private sector will benefit immensely from these economic privileges as it remains at the forefront of innovation and economic growth.
Third – and perhaps most incredible – through CEPA, the UAE and India aim to increase bilateral non-oil trade to over $100 billion within five years.
Prior to entering into CEPA, our two countries had already signed a number of key economic agreements to boost trade and investment in recent years, including an agreement to avoid double taxation, an agreement on the protection and promotion investments and an air services agreement. These agreements are in addition to the establishment of a Joint Committee and the UAE-India High Level Working Group on Investment, which have made considerable efforts to explore opportunities for mutual benefits and enhance economic cooperation in the world. industry, commerce and trade.
Economic cooperation, as embodied by CEPA, is only part of the deep friendship that our nations share. Today, millions of Indian nationals living and working in the UAE form a vibrant community that has become an inseparable part of our national fabric. In fact, the Indian diaspora in the UAE constitutes the largest expatriate community in the country. More than 200 weekly direct flights connect India and the United Arab Emirates and ensure that our peoples continue to engage in trade, studies and tourism.
Through this interaction, we celebrated each other’s festivals and honored each other’s heritage, practiced our religious traditions side by side in harmony, and learned about each other’s diverse languages, popular culture, food and families. In 1975, the UAE and India signed a cultural agreement which set the framework for cultural cooperation and later led to the development of the Cultural Cooperation Executive Program in 2016. The heart of the UAE would not not the same without the immense contributions of its Indian community.
In this vein, we are truly proud of India’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai under the theme ‘the future is in India’. It is no coincidence that the National Day of the United Arab Emirates was recently designated by UNESCO as World Future Day, as our two countries seek to invest in cutting-edge industries that will reshape our world and will improve the prospects for a full recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, including through agro-technology, artificial intelligence, green infrastructure and renewable energy.
The forward-looking vision shared by our countries – one of economic prosperity, cultural richness and people-to-people exchange – forms the basis of our enduring partnership, which will propel us to the next stage. CEPA is just the bright start of this coming era of cooperation.
Posted: February 20, 2022, 11:30 AM