‘Aggressive’ plan for $115 billion India, UAE trade in 5 years: Goyal
India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have drawn up an “aggressive and ambitious” time frame aiming to conclude a comprehensive trade negotiation by December 2021 and hope to sign a formal free trade agreement in the early part of 2022 to achieve over $115 billion bilateral trade in five years.
Indian commerce minister Piyush Goyal said after the latest round of discussions the two partners are looking at the possibility of crossing the initial figure of $100 billion. “Both the teams will reassess as both of us feel that the possibilities are far more than as both goods and services will complement each other,” he said.
Earlier, the agreement was expected to raise bilateral trade in goods to $100 billion and services to $15 billion within five years of signing the agreement. UAE was India’s third largest trading partner with about $59.12 billion of bilateral trade in 2019-20, a non-Covid period.
“The first round of CEPA negotiation will be held tomorrow and day after [September 23-24] in Delhi,” Goyal said on Wednesday in New Delhi at a joint press conference with UAE minister of state for trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi. The two partners want to sign a formal India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in March 2022 after completing internal legal procedures and ratification.
Zeyoudi said the UAE is excited about the trade agreement with India, which will boost bilateral trade between both nations. “India is now UAE’s second largest trading partner,” he said adding that during the first half of 2021, the total volume of non-oil trade between the two countries reached $21 billion.
Goyal said India is participating in a big way at Expo 2020 Dubai, which begins on October 1, 2021, and said that Indian participation would help to boost bilateral trade and investment. He extended his deepest appreciation to the UAE for its support during the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, especially for supplying liquid medical oxygen and medicines. Zeyoudi also thanked India for its support during the pandemic that included keeping supply chains open.
Both ministers underlined the need to coordinate and promote cooperation under the framework of the memorandum of understanding signed in January 2017 between the two countries for cooperation on trade remedy measures.
UAE has been an important trade alley of India for over five decades. It is India’s second largest export destination after the US with exports worth $29 billion in 2019-2020. India’s major exports to the UAE include petroleum products, precious metals, stones, gems and jewellery, minerals, food items such as cereals, sugar, fruits and vegetables, tea, meat, and seafood, textiles, engineering and machinery products, and chemicals.
India’s top imports from the UAE include petroleum and petroleum products, precious metals, stones, gems and jewellery, minerals, chemicals, and wood and wood products. India imported $10.9 billion of crude oil from the UAE in 2019-2020.
UAE is the eighth largest investor in India with investments worth $11 billion between April 2000 and March 2021. Investments by Indian companies in the UAE are estimated to be over $85 billion, according to official data.
The UAE is also home to more than 3.5 million Indian expatriates, reportedly the largest ethnic community that constitutes roughly 30% of the total population. In recent years, the two sides have also boosted strategic and security cooperation as part of India’s focus on its extended neighbourhood.