India is close to starting free trade negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council. Earlier this week, UAE's foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan met external affairs minister S Jaishankar during his two-day visit to India to deepen the relationship between the two countries. India and UAE are expected to surpass bilateral trade worth $88 billion this year.
After the US and China, UAE is India’s third largest trading partner and for the first time, the UAE signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with India in February.
The aim is to increase bilateral goods trade to $100 billion in five years. Speaking to CNBC-TV18 about the progress that has been made after the signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in February, UAE's Ambassador to India Dr Abdul Nasser Al Shaali said that having CEPA with India in such short span time says a lot about the relationship between two countries.
“I believe the correct target is $100 billion, the non oil trade over the next five years. We are on track to achieving quite a high number this year, next year in terms of overall bilateral trade. But non oil bilateral trade is to continue to grow over the next five years. CEPA as you mentioned, is the framework that we are operating within and is the context for the economic and trade ties at the moment and moving forward. So what we're trying to do is to raise awareness about what CEPA offers in terms of benefits, How can not only big investors benefit from it, but also SMEs whether they choose to set up shop in India or to set up shop in UAE," he said.
He added, "A CEPA with India means that there is some sort of a model that you can follow or a model that you can improve on and expand to the entire GCC market. And the fact that we are able to do it in such a short period of time in 88 days or so says a lot about the relationship and the importance that both countries attached to CEPA."
India, today assumed the presidency of G20 group of which UAE is also a member, and the next climate summit, COP28, will be held in the UAE. Speaking of the expectations of UAE from India for the presidency, the ambassador said, "As you would know already the UAE is being invited now for the second time as a guest country and has been invited previously twice as the chair of the GCC and the way we look at it is we want this kind of engagement to continue."
"We want to support the Indian presidency. We want to make sure that we are active, that we are participating in all of the working groups at the highest level. And that's a commitment that the UAE government has made to the Indian government and that it will see through throughout the Indian presidency all the way to the leaders summit in September 2023 that will take place in Delhi," he continued.
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