New Delhi: Visiting Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan India held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on various issues of mutual concern, including trade and investment issues and the global threat of terror group ISIS, even as India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday inked seven pacts in various fields including cyber security, infrastructure investment, renewable energy and space cooperation.
Agreements were also signed in the fields of insurance, culture and skill development. As India eyes investment from the UAE, the Gulf nation also sought more structural reforms and an attractive climate for absorbing foreign direct investment.
With the two countries targeting trade of over $100 billion by 2020, Mr Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said it was essential to add “new revenue streams” and explore other fields to achieve that goal. The UAE invests around $10 billion in India of which around $3.3 billion is FDI while the remaining is portfolio investment.
The Crown Prince, who is also the deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces, also had a tête-à-tête with PM Modi in the evening at the PM’s official residence, 7 RCR, before talks in the evening. “The strength of a multifaceted relationship. The leaders witness the exchange of four agreements across various sectors. The four agreements are in the field of cyber security, infrastructure investment, renewable energy and space cooperation three more agreements have already been exchanged in the fields of insurance, culture and skill development. One more agreement between Exim Bank and Dubai Economic Council will be exchanged tomorrow in Mumbai,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
“An exceptional tête-à-tête. PM meets the Crown Prince for a restricted meeting at 7 RCR before talks in the evening,” he added. The pact on cyberspace will provide for greater synergy between security agencies of the two countries to combat efforts to radicalise youths through online platforms, besides checking activities of terror groups.
Expanding economic engagement, particularly in oil and renewable energy sector and increasing UAE’s investment in India, was a major focus area at the deliberations.
The UAE’s national oil company Adnoc has already agreed to store crude oil in India’s maiden strategic storage and give two-thirds of the oil to it for free. India is building underground storages at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Mangalore and Padur in Karnataka to store about 5.33 million tonnes of crude oil. Another pact was signed for creating a framework for facilitating participation of the UAE’s institutional investors in India’s infrastructure sector.
Mr. Gargash said the ‘Security Dialogue’ between the two countries is “moving ahead” as both face a threat from extremism and terrorism. “It is important to have structural reforms in India. If you look at the FDI in India, it is not very large in comparison to the size of the Indian economy and its potential. So, what we would like to see also is a more attractive climate in terms of absorbing the investment,” Mr. Gargash said here at an interaction with reporters along with Reem Al Hashimi, UAE’s Minister of State for International Development. The two are a part of the UAE delegation led by Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Gargash said neither country was doing any “favour” to the other as India was looking for investments and the UAE for markets for its sovereign funds. “A lot of foreign investment comes through World Bank, but we work more as sovereign funds and more on commercial basis. This is one area where we are working with the Indian government.
We are also waiting for the Indian party to find the right channel for us to make that commitment. As much India is seeking our funds, we are also seeking India’s market. It’s a win-win situation,” he said.
Hashimi said after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to UAE last year, an Investment Task Force was formed to expedite the issues and “there has been some progress” on it. With ISRO achieving success on its Mars Orbiter Mission (MoM) in its maiden attempt, United Arab Emirates has also sought India’s cooperation for its first inter-planetary expedition, which is slated to launched in 2020.
Meanwhile, asserting that UAE’s about USD 3 billion investment in India was far below the potential, President Pranab Mukherjee today said New Delhi attaches high priority to enhancing bilateral investment ties with the Gulf nation.