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PM Modi, UAE counterpart to hold virtual meet; Trade pact to be signed

Source : WION

PM Modi, UAE counterpart to hold virtual meet; Trade pact to be signed
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UAE Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (File Photo)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the UAE counterpart are expected to hold a virtual meeting in the coming week with key outcoming being the signing of the much-awaited free trade pact. Both sides are exploring Friday(18th) or Saturday(19th) of next week as possible days for the meeting, even as a formal confirmation is still awaited.

The draft for the FTA or the comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) was agreed in December while the negotiations started in October. Last week in response to a question, India’s trade minister Piyush Goyal said, “with UAE we are at an advance stage and we hope to make some announcements very quickly on the UAE Free trade Agreement”.  UAE has stood as India’s third largest trade partner for last 8 years. Bilateral trade in 1985 was $180 million (non-oil), while in the Financial year 2020-2021 the amount reached to above $43 billion dollars. Total foreign trade between 2 countries is about $60 billion.

Calling the relationship “dynamic” UAE’s envoy to Delhi UAE ambassador Ahmed AlBanna had earlier this month said, “we treasure our partnership with India” and signing of the CEPA “would unleash a golden era in the bilateral partnership and increase trade, investment and technological partnership” creating “employment ?opportunities in various sectors”. He highlighted, that announcements have been made by UAE companies in “investing in J&K, Punjab and many states..” 

The signing of a trade agreement usually takes months or a year but India UAE was concluded in around 3-4 months’ time. A joint communique will be released on the benefits of the FTA after the signing of the pact.

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and PM Modi have held a number of conversations in the past. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to visit UAE on 6th January when the pact was supposed to be signed but visit could not materialize due to Omicron covid crisis. During the visit he was to visit India Pavillion at the mega Dubai expo. It showcases India’s culture, Yoga, Ayurveda to Space programme. 

India and UAE have ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership ‘and high-level visits have been common in last few years. PM Modi had visited the West Asian country in 2015, 2018, and 2019 and has been conferred the highest civilian award ‘the Order of Zayed’ of the country.  Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited India in February 2016 and again in 2017 as the Chief Guest at India’s Republic day celebrations. Both countries have deepened cooperation in defense, security, cyber security, health care, artificial intelligence, blockchain. The west Asian country is also the only foreign partner in India’s strategic oil reserves and one of the largest investors in India, with a cumulative investment of $18 billion. The country host 3.4 million Indians, the largest Indian diaspora anywhere in the world.

On the anvil is also meet of the foreign ministers of India, UAE, Israel and United States, also known as the West Asian Quad or I2,U2. The foreign ministers could meet as early as March in UAE but depends on covid and geopolitical situation. UAE envoy said, “the newly formed west asian quad…is an offspring of the Abraham Accords and the India, UAE and Israel trilateral” and the “multilateral approach is critical to respond to threats”. 

UAE in past few weeks have seen number of attacks by Yemen based Houthi Rebels. The attack in January killed 2 Indians at Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. It is interesting to know UAE is non-permanent member of the United Nations Security council (UNSC) along with India. The country will be president of the council in March. 

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