A month after India and UAE signed the historic Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in February, India’s Consul General to Dubai Aman Puri has said he believes there is potential for trade between both countries to hit $100 billion by 2027.
“The Pre-COVID trade between India and UAE was $60 billion, and we are hoping to make it $100 billion in the next five years,” said Puri, in an exclusive chat with CNBC-TV18, along the sidelines of Expo 2020 in the UAE.
“Trade and services are likely to grow by $15 billion, and both countries have committed to investments of $75 billion from UAE to India,” he added.
Acknowledging that trade relations between India and the UAE were at an “inflection point”, Puri said he believed that India’s labour-intensive sectors could benefit the most from CEPA.
“We will see a large number of goods and services come to the UAE without tariffs — gems and jewellery, energy, pharmaceuticals and footwear are some of the labour-intensive sectors that will enter the UAE market, and through UAE, have access to the global market,” he added.
A large part of the optimism stems from the UAE’s interests in Indian start-ups, not to mention a sustained trend of several Indian start-ups opening Middle-East offices or headquarters in the UAE.
“UAE-based investors are looking closely at innovations coming out of India,” Puri said. “Several Indian unicorns have chosen UAE as their base, and we’ve seen several of them having a significant presence here — like Byju’s, Upgrad and Cars 24," he added. More recently, Chennai-based start-up PickYourTrail announced that it was opening its Middle-East office in Dubai.
'J&K attracting investor interest'
It isn’t just start-ups and unicorns that are looking to the Middle-East for better business opportunities. A large number of UAE-based investors have also trained their sights on the newly formed union territory of Jammu & Kashmir to establish presence in India.
“The Government of Dubai has already committed to establishing presence in Jammu & Kashmir,” said Puri, adding, “We expect to see big-ticket investments in J&K very soon, through the FDI route, and this reflects the strategic nature of the India-UAE partnership.”
The investments that Puri refers to include marquee Abu Dhabi investors like the Lulu Group, which have had plans of setting up food-processing units in Jammu & Kashmir. Only last year, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority made a $751 million investment in Reliance Retail. India now believes larger investments from the Middle-East could well be on their way.
“Without disclosing how large these investments are, and how these investors are looking at such opportunities, I can say that several times the Reliance investment is slated to come into India this year,” said Puri.
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First Published: IST