MUMBAI, 18th May, 2022 (WAM) — Mumbai hosted the CII India UAE Economic Partnership Summit after the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries that came into force on 1st May, 2022.
The event was attended by over 200 public and private sector representatives, investors, representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs.
The economic summit crowns the CEPA between the two countries, which began a new era for jointly achieving progress and prosperity and represents a roadmap towards a promising future.
The summit was attended by Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, who headed the UAE’s commercial delegation that visited India, Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs; Dr. Ahmed Abdulrahman Al Banna, UAE Ambassador to India; Abdullah Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Juma Mohammed Al Kait, the Assistant Under-Secretary for Foreign Trade Affairs, Ministry of Economy; and Faisal Al Hammadi, Acting Assistant Under-Secretary for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, along with several Emirati business leaders.
The Indian delegation included Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry of India; Sunjay Sudhir, Ambassador of India to the UAE; Rajan Navani, President of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and many Indian business leaders and investors from various economic sectors.
The summit comprised three key sessions. During the first session, Al Marri and Goyal launched the “UAE-India Startups Platform”, to offer a common platform for SMEs that highlights relevant advantages and information, including in the areas of knowledge exchange, implementing joint programmes and capacity building, to create investment opportunities for SMEs in both countries and enabling them to continue to expand.
The Emirati delegation, led by Al Marri, held several meetings with investors, entrepreneurs and representatives of SMEs in New Delhi and Mumbai to discuss investment opportunities available in both countries.
Al Marri stressed that upon the directives of the UAE’s leadership and the support of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, the two countries have started a new golden era in their bilateral cooperation, adding that he chaired an economic and commercial delegation to India in May 2022 aimed at taking advantage of available opportunities.
“This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties between the UAE and India. Trade has always constituted a strong foundation of the bilateral relations between the two countries. India is the second leading trading partner of the UAE, which is India’s third-largest trading partner. In 2021, their non-oil trade exchange amounted to US$45 billion, and India is the leading trading partner of the UAE in terms of non-oil exports, representing 14 percent of total exports globally,” he said.
The UAE is India’s second-largest export destination, the third key source of India’s imports, accounts for 40 percent of India’s total trade with the Arab world, and is ranked ninth among the largest recipients of foreign direct investment (FDI) from the UAE valued at US$51 billion in 2019, he added.
Al Marri then pointed out that the CEPA between the two countries is based on their cooperation, respect for their mutual interests and achieving joint benefits, and underscores the UAE’s keenness to enhance its strategic cooperation with partners and promising markets, to reinforce its stature as a global trade hub.
The CEPA is expected to contribute to GDP growth by 1.7 percent over the next decade, increase exports by 1.5 percent and create over 140,000 new job opportunities, he noted, affirming that at a time when the world’s economies are recovering, the UAE has succeeded in attracting FDIs worth some US$21 billion in 2021, an increase of 3.9 percent while ranking first in the Middle East and North Africa and 15th globally in the 2021 Kearney FDI Confidence Index.
He also presented several initiatives launched by the country, including amending more than 40 laws to improve its business environment and increase its competitiveness, most notably a law covering companies and allowing foreign investors to have full ownership in economic sectors.
The CEPA ensures more openness and freedom and will help overcome the obstacles facing the cross-border movement of goods, which will mean further growth and more business, he added, stressing that the proposed initiatives represent an open call for Indian investors and companies to be part of the UAE’s new growth plans.
Al Marri then pointed out that the UAE’s non-oil sector accounts for over 70 percent of GDP, and the country has an infrastructure network and logistical services connecting over 400 cities, affirming that foreign trade will play a key role in doubling the size of the economy from US$381 billion to US$762 billion by 2030.
Goyal said the CEPA between the two countries will begin a golden age in their economic relations, stating, “The two countries’ ambitions are similar. We have a common vision and a mutual desire to advance our partnership towards broader horizons.”
The Indian government attaches great importance to the CEPA with the UAE, as it significantly boost both economies, he added.
The summit also involved a session on enhancing the utilisation of technology to bolster partnerships and support entrepreneurs and SMEs. During the session, the participants highlighted the importance of the UAE’s role in creating opportunities for Indian financial technology (FinTech) startups, whose presence in the UAE enabled them to access to many promising regional and international markets.
For his part, Dr. Al Falasi said the UAE and India have deep-rooted ties, and they are now establishing a more comprehensive partnership.
“During the next phase, we will aim to boost our trade, investment and cooperation in new economic sectors, such as the digital economy, energy, climate action, emerging technologies, skills, education, food security, SMEs and healthcare,” he further said.
He then presented several key indicators in the SME sector and explained that SMEs represent over 94 percent of all companies and private sector institutions registered in the country, accounting for over 50 percent of the country’s GDP.
The CEPA was signed between the two countries at the perfect time, he added, noting that an entire chapter is allocated to the cooperation between the two countries in the SME sector and empowering them to increase their participation under the framework of the agreement.
Dr. Al Banna said the CEPA between the two countries is a key step in the future growth process of both the UAE and India. The private sector and investors in both countries have a bigger role to play in leveraging available opportunities.
The summit also included a thirds session on the UAE’s status as a hub for trade, manufacturing, logistic services to GCC, African and European markets, which discussed the importance of the CEPA signed by the UAE and India, which is a turning point in achieving their aspirations and leveraging from the UAE’s strategic location.
The session also talked about how the Indian industry can benefit from accessing African markets.