"India is our top foreign commercial partner," says Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the Minister of Foreign Trade.
UAE celebrates India trade links
"India is our top foreign commercial partner while the UAE is India's main commercial ally in the Middle East," said Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the Minister of Foreign Trade, according to the state news agency WAM.
The Ministry of Foreign Trade opened an office in India in March as part a "strategy to further promote trade relations with the subcontinent, expand the UAE's foreign trade contribution to its GDP, preserve the country's trade interests, as well as to increase the flow of foreign direct investments into its domestic markets", WAM reported.
Non-oil trade with India reached US$32 billion (Dh117.53bn) in 2008, representing 15 per cent of the country's total foreign trade. This was a 48 per cent increase in trade from 2007.
About 105 companies have investments in the UAE on top of the several hundred operating out of free zones. UAE companies invested Dh5.7bn into India last year, making up 1.4 per cent of total foreign direct investments in India.
UAE investments in India are expected to reach Dh6.9bn by next year, especially in energy, services, software and construction.
India ranks second to China in terms of the value of imports at $16.9bn in 2008. It is also the top re-export location at $10.4bn, a growth of 69 per cent from 2007.
Government statistics show a shift from a Dh7.3bn trade deficit with India in the first quarter of last year to a Dh2.2bn surplus in the first quarter ofthis year. Over the same period, non-oil trade has risen to Dh37.5bn from Dh20.5bn.
The Government said yesterday the visit by Mrs Patil had great commercial and political significance.
"The visit draws great importance as it is part of the efforts to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries in economic, trade, labour, political and cultural avenues," the Government said in a statement through WAM.
"The bilateral relations between the UAE and India enjoy power and strength as they based on historical roots and mutual interests and co-operation."
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, visited India this year. The UAE and India have historic ties dating back to the early pearl-diving days of the country. Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the UAE, forged a strong relationship with the late Indira Gandhi and subsequent leaders of the country.
"These visits have shown the extent of convergence and understanding in the views and political attitudes between the two countries towards regional and international issues at the time, especially with regard to the situation in the Middle East, where both countries emphasised the need for Israel's withdrawal from all territories occupied in 1967, including the city of Jerusalem," the Government said yesterday.