As many as 16 agreements on a wide range of sectors like nuclear energy, oil, IT, aerospace and railways — facilitating billions of dollars of investment by the UAE in India — are expected to be inked during Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s visit to New Delhi beginning Wednesday.
Al Nahyan, who is also deputy commander of the armed forces, will be accompanied on the visit by a high-level delegation including ministers, senior government officials, businessmen representing different sectors of the economy and starts his official visit from February 10-13.
The UAE sees this visit as an opportunity to enhance its economic relationship even further. Talking to reporters, Ahmed Al Banna, UAE ambassador to India, said, “We have on hand around 16 agreements for cooperation between different ministries and authorities. Out of 16, almost 12 have been finalised and ready for signature. Hopefully all the 16 will be signed.”
The visit is designed to build on the outcomes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE in August 2015 by advancing and strengthening trade, political and security cooperation. During this visit, the UAE expects to see areas of further cooperation across a variety of sectors, including energy, aviation, technology, infrastructure and SMEs.
Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, has a sovereign wealth fund of about $800 billion. India has been eyeing the fund, parked with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, for its infrastructure sector. The envoy said there may be some announcements to this effect during Al Nahyan’s visit. The envoy said the agreements will lead to “huge investment portfolio” in diverse areas including renewable energy, oil and gas and some other major sectors.
India is UAE’s number one trading partner and the annual trade currently stands at around $60 billion. The UAE, a major player in the Gulf region, is a strategically important country for India.
On a query regarding investment in India by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the envoy said things are moving fast and that many other private investors from the UAE are also looking at investing in India in a significant way. He said the business delegation will go straight to Mumbai where they will have in-depth talks with their Indian counterparts.
About the long pending free trade agreement between India and Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Al Banna expressed hope that it will be finalised soon. “We want it to be signed as soon as possible.”
With regard to the subject of promoting regional stability, the envoy said that the UAE looks forward to expanding dialogue and cooperation with India in areas such as protecting regional security, confronting terrorism and extremist ideologies, and enhancing maritime and cyber security.