New Delhi: There is a vast untapped potential and huge appetite to invest in India, which remains unexplored, said United Arab Emirates Envoy to India Ahmed Albanna, during ASSOCHAM’s webinar “Rediscovering India - UAE Economic Relations in the Covid era”.
In his key note address, Dr. Albanna highlighted key points to focus towards enhancing India-UAE economic cooperation.
He said that UAE - India strategic partnership has been manifest during the regular close and multi-level interactions between the leadership and officials on both sides. India is a strong and key partner with whom we wish to further bolster our strategic partnership.
Cooperation in food security, agriculture products, health and pharmaceutical products, services and technologies, IT, education technologies, energy, defence manufacturing, aerospace and tourism sectors form the pillars of our economic relations, he further added. “We need to focus on facilitation of movement of cargo, investment, people and decision makers.”
He further stressed that ASSOCHAM must play an active role in expanding Indian business presence in UAE, Gulf and MENA region. Mobilising Indian participation for the EXPO 21 will be a definitive step in this direction.
He also assured full support of the commercial office of UAE Embassy for facilitating market entry for business interests on both sides.
Arpita Mukherjee, a noted economist from Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, moderated the webinar which included the eminent speakers, Ambassador Navdeep Suri, Former Indian Ambassador to UAE; Mr. Vipul, Joint Secretary (Gulf), Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India; Mr. Yusuff Ali MA, Chairman & Managing Director, Lulu Group International; Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, President ASSOCHAM and Co-Founder & Managing Director, Hiranandani Group of Companies; Mr. Ahmad Sultan Al Haddad, Chief Operating Officer, Parks and Zones – DP World, UAE Region; Maj Gen (Retd.) Sharafuddin Sharaf, Chairman, UAE India Business Council (UIBC) and Vice Chairman, Sharaf Group and Mr. Deepak Sood, Secretary General, ASSOCHAM
The exclusive panel of speakers shared insights and updates on current economic situation in both countries and how both countries can tap the emerging business opportunities.
Prof. Arpita Mukherjee, emphasised that there are lot of synergies between the two countries to cooperate but currently both economies are going through a significant slowdown. Once the pandemic is over, we expect lot of Investment from UAE in Indian Industrial park and SEZ’s
Opening the webinar, Mr. Deepak Sood, said that India and UAE share a common vision of development and welfare of people at the core of their policies and Growing India-UAE economic and commercial relations contribute to the stability and strength of a rapidly diversifying and deepening bilateral relationship between the two countries.
He also said that growing engagements between India and the UAE has to be seen within the broader contexts of UAE’s policy of engaging with Asia to improve economic prospects and India’s search for foreign investments to expedite economic growth and address the threat of extremism and terrorism. Good strategic partnership at all levels will yield benefits not only for India and UAE but also for peace and development in the region, he added.
Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani, in his welcome address emphasised the need to take India-UAE relationship to the next level. He said that both countries should target to increase trade from $ 60 billion to $ 100 billion in next couple of years.
Towards enhancing India-UAE cooperation in real estate sector, Dr. Hiranandani suggested that we should go into a treaty with UAE on the real estate regulation so that if the real estate projects of a developer is approved by the real estate regulator in India, it may not require the approval of regulatory authority in UAE and vice versa. The requirement of dual regulatory approval in both countries can be done away with and this will lead to more companies expanding presence in India and UAE.
Covid-19 Pandemic has forced the global economy to restructure, forcing countries to adapt to new norms, said Maj Gen (Retd.) Sharafuddin Sharaf. He also said that there is a need to reconfigure supply chains. He further added that there is a tremendous scope for bilateral cooperation between the two sides in the area of Food safety. He also said that UIBC is keen to work with ASSOCHAM to enhance the bilateral trade between the two countries and enhance cooperation
Mr. Ahmad Sultan Al Haddad in his remarks said that high level visits from both sides in last few years have cemented India-UAE partnership and has provided a boost to the mutual trade and investment. Presence of large Indian community in UAE and increasing number of Indian businesses to explore the opportunities in UAE market and vice versa portrays the strong foundation of this strategic partnership, he added.
He also said that many UAE companies have been showing keen interest into exploring the opportunities offered by the Indian market and the free zones. Post-pandemic, the bilateral trade between both countries is expected to grow at a significant rate and the cross investments will witness a major hike. He added that DP World is the 2nd largest investor in India. It announced an investment of approx. US$3 billion in India in 2018 of which already US$ 1.2 Billion has been invested. He also urged that India – UAE trade in goods and services has the potential to reach a target of $120 billion in next few years.
Mr. Yusuff Ali M.A, congratulated the Indian Prime Minister for controlling the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in India. He applauded the UAE Government’s support for Indian business community. He highlighted that the strong and close relationship between Indian leadership and the UAE leadership has helped develop a strong people to people connect between both nations. He said that the Economic stability and dynamic business environment have encouraged businesses to operate in UAE. He also praised Indian Govt.’s policies towards FDI and overall ease of doing business in India. Because of such close relationship between our leaders, Indians are treated as own residents in UAE, he added.
People to people connect has been the most important strengthening pillar of India-UAE partnership, said Mr. Vipul. Over 3.5 lakh Indians were repatriated from UAE during the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the Government of UAE extended full support in terms of testing and taking exceptional care of the Indian community.
Space and defence are emerging areas of cooperation and we are optimistic that leadership from both sides will certainly work in close cooperation to enhance cooperation in these areas.
Ambassador Navdeep Suri, in his special remarks, recommended Indian companies to participate in Dubai Expo 2021 and take advantage and showcase their capacities and strengths in a place which promises to be the meeting ground for the world
He further said that there are lot of new opportunities for companies from UAE to come and invest in India and that should form the substance of future discussion that how we can collaborate in the new and emerging areas of cooperation.
The cooperation potential between the two nations is endless but there is still lot of work to be done to translate that potential into reality, he added.
Dr. Ahmed Abdul Rahman Albanna, informed the audience that Embassy of UAE has different platforms for attracting investments into UAE whether it is at a federal level, ministerial level or on the local level. The Embassy is ready to provide facilitation and other required services. UAE Embassy in India is one of the few Embassies which has a Commercial Attaché. We are now trying to setup a platform like UAE investment lounge which will attract investors to get all the information and services under one umbrella.
Dr. Albanna said that the share of oil in UAE GDP is reducing and have come in the range of 25-30%. Due to the falling prices of oil, we are affected in terms of economy, however we are a healthy economy. UAE is paying attention to different sectors such as Services, Tourism, Manufacturing and trying to widen and finding out other strengths.
Mr. Vipul mentioned that Indian Embassy is fully geared up and have a strong team to provide assistance to UAE investors towards facilitating their queries for investing in India.