The bilateral relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India have experienced significant growth in recent years, bolstered by their longstanding ties and strengthened through cultural exchange, trade, and political engagement. The two countries have developed a comprehensive partnership driven by their rapidly expanding economic and trade relations, which is a testament to the vision and ongoing support of their leadership.
The UAE’s proactive approach to enhancing its economic ties with the world and forging trade alliances with key markets has played a crucial role in fostering this growth. In September 2021, the UAE launched the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPA) program, including its CEPA with India, which has further advanced their relations.
The UAE-India partnership serves as a catalyst for economic growth, creating trade and investment opportunities for over 3.8 billion people. It contributes to the vitality of trade and investment flows not only in South Asia but also towards regional and global markets.
Several significant milestones have been achieved in the bilateral ties between the UAE and India in recent years:
May 2022: UAE-India CEPA
The UAE-India CEPA, which took effect on May 1, 2022, marked a significant turning point in the bilateral relations, benefiting Emirati businesses. The agreement includes a reduction or waiver of tariffs on over 80% of UAE goods exported to India, facilitating freer and fairer trade across the Indian border. It also provides enhanced market access for service providers across 11 vital sectors and over 100 sub-sectors. The CEPA aims to eliminate unnecessary technical barriers for UAE and Indian exporters by using international standards as the basis for technical regulations. Furthermore, UAE businesses gain access to Indian government procurement opportunities, along with a 10% price preference in UAE government procurement tenders.
September 2022: 14th Session of UAE-India Joint Committee Meeting
Chaired by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the UAE, and Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s Minister of External Affairs, the 14th UAE-India Joint Committee Meeting took place. During this meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Wildlife Institute of India and the International Fund for Houbara Conservation in the UAE. Additionally, an MoU was signed between the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and India’s Ministry of External Affairs, establishing the UAE-India Cultural Council Forum.
February 2023: UAE-India-France Tripartite Alliance
In February 2023, the UAE, France, and India announced a trilateral cooperation initiative. The three countries affirmed their commitment to promoting cooperation projects in various fields, including energy and combatting climate change. The initiative serves as a platform for expanding collaboration between their development agencies on sustainable projects and organizing trilateral events during the Indian Presidency of the G20 and the UAE’s hosting of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in 2023. The trilateral initiative also aims to promote cultural cooperation, including heritage promotion and protection.
May 2022: Partnership in Renewable Energy
The UAE and India joined forces in May 2022 to combat climate change by signing an MoU to support each other’s efforts in meeting commitments under the Paris Agreement. The partnership aims to collaborate on climate action, with a focus on increasing renewable energy and green hydrogen, creating carbon markets, improving agricultural efficiency, and supporting sustainable finance.
May 2023: New Opportunities and Joint Promotional Activities
During a visit to India, Minister of Economy Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri engaged in talks with Indian ministers, officials, and business leaders to explore avenues for boosting economic and trade relations. Discussions centered on increasing and diversifying mutual investments, exploring new sectors such as renewable energy, telecommunications, infrastructure, roads, real estate, and startups. Both countries expressed their commitment to enhancing economic ties by launching innovative projects that tap into market potential and provide incentives for startups to contribute to GDP growth. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) held its annual conference in New Delhi, where Investopia, a global investment platform, announced a collaboration with CII to promote investment opportunities in the Indian and Emirati markets.
June 2023: US$100 Billion Non-Oil Trade Volume Target
During the first CEPA Joint Committee meeting in June, the UAE and India set a target of reaching US$100 billion in non-oil trade by 2030. The implementation of the CEPA had a positive effect on bilateral trade and investment, with non-oil trade between the two countries reaching US$45.5 billion in the first 11 months after the agreement took effect, representing a 6.9% increase from the previous year.
CEPA Signing Anniversary
June 2022 marked the first anniversary of the UAE-India CEPA signing. During the inaugural meeting of the CEPA joint committee, the operationalization of committees, sub-committees, and technical councils under the CEPA was discussed. The mutual exchange of preferential trade data on a quarterly basis was also agreed upon to ensure effective monitoring of the CEPA.