In an interview with Diplomacy & Beyond, Director General of UAE-India Business Council (UIBC), Abdul Salam, shares his vision on creating inclusive bilateral trade ties between UAE-India. He explains how the council acts towards supporting UAE and Indian businesses planning to enter UAE Indian market by organizing policy forums and events. Here are the edited excerpts…
- UAE-India Business Council (UIBC) is the only official Joint Business Chamber set up by both the Governments for promoting economic synergy between the UAE and India. What’s the vision and mission statement of the business body?
UAE-India Business Council (UIBC) was formally launched by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister for Foreign Affairs and Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs of India during 11th Session of the India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting on 3rd September 2015 in New Delhi. UIBC aims to create an inclusive bilateral trade environment between UAE and India by linking businesses from both the countries and supporting long-term commercial partnerships for developing strategic relationships between businesses and government officials.
The Council acts towards supporting UAE and Indian businesses planning to enter UAE/Indian market by organizing B2B networking meetings, policy forums and events, delegations and market visits, and other facilities required to succeed. It serves to provide a voice and visibility to various stakeholders in UAE-India economic space to promote trade and investment, job creation, innovation, inclusion, and entrepreneurship between the UAE and India.
- Please update on recent UAE-India bilateral trade and investment development?
There has been a paradigm shift in the UAE-India bilateral relationship after the historic visit of Prime Minister Modi to UAE, which took place after 3 decades, from being traditional economic partners to now strategic partners. This visit has been reciprocated twice by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in February 2016 and later as Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day in 2017. Stronger political ties between the UAE and India have led to deeper economic collaboration between both the countries.
Recently, Sharaf Group has signed a MoU worth 5,000 crore to invest in India’s logistics parks, infrastructure, and food processing sector during World Food India held in November 2017, New Delhi. Another major UAE fi rm, Lulu Group has announced to invest over AED 1.7 billion in the construction of a shopping mall, a five-star hotel and a convention center in Andhra Pradesh.
Andhra Pradesh Government has signed two major deals worth $7.5 billion with Dubai-based firms in the month of October this year. The Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board (APEDB) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Aviation City LLP for developing an aero city hub in Andhra Pradesh with an investment of $5.5 billion. The APEDB signed another MoU with Bin Zayed International LLC which promised to invest $2 billion in various infrastructure projects in Andhra Pradesh.
Also, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) has recently signed an investment agreement worth $1 billion with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA). As part of the comprehensive partnership agreement, ADIA will become the first institutional investor in NIIF’s Master Fund and a shareholder in National Investment and Infrastructure Limited, the NIIF’s investment management company.
Dubai’s biggest bank, Emirates NBD, has marked the commencement of its operations in India in November this year, with the inauguration of its first branch in Mumbai. Earlier this year, DP World and the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to invest over $1 billion for developing the logistics sector in India during the India Integrated Transport and Logistics Summit (IITLS) held in New Delhi. Under this agreement, DP World will focus on the development of port infrastructure of the Sagarmala project, creation of the Delhi – Mumbai Industrial Corridor, river transportation, and cold chain storage, investing in port-led special economic zones, free trade zones, ICDs and cruise terminals.
- How do you think the bilateral trade environment between the UAE and India can become more inclusive?
The UAE and India enjoy strong bonds of friendship founded on millennia-old cultural, religious and economic intercourse between the two nations. The business relations between both the countries have been going through a rapid, transformative phase in recent years due to their sincere efforts to improve bilateral relations.
Both the countries are cooperating across a wide spectrum of areas, including strategic areas such as space and defense, to scale their economic and trade links to new heights. Both the nations are all set to leverage their mutual strengths and create synergies to help each other in achieving its respective national economic visions. Continuous trade and inward investment growth between the UAE and India would allow them to emerge more strongly as mutually beneficial business hubs – regionally and globally.
As the bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to cross the $100 billion mark by 2020, from the current levels of $53 billion in FY17, there is an expectation that both the countries will realize a closer economic partnership.
- What are the latest events lined up for UIBC in India?
We are planning a number of policy dialogues on different issues with government agencies and investors’ roundtable highlighting trade and investment opportunities between both the countries early next year. We are also planning to take trade delegations and organize B2B meetings during the upcoming major events i.e. India-UAE High-Level Joint Task Force on Investments (HLTFI), World Government Summit, Annual Investment Meeting (AIM), etc.
- What is your message for the readers of Diplomacy and Beyond magazine?
I am glad that your magazine is publishing a special edition on the UAE-India relations to mark 46th National Day of the UAE. I take this opportunity on behalf of the UAE-India Business Council (UIBC) to extend my heartfelt greetings of UAE National Day to all the readers of this magazine.