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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Summit set to increase SME business ties between UAE and India

India looks to smooth the path for Emirati investors in medium-sized projects by offering advice and knowledge of the processes involved

The visit to India of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, pictured with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, in January has helped cement ties. Hamad Al Kaabi / Crown Prince Court
The visit to India of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, pictured with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, in January has helped cement ties. Hamad Al Kaabi / Crown Prince Court

Giving Emiratis the confidence to “pitch camp” in India by investing in medium-sized projects such as housing and leisure tourism is the focus of initiatives being pursued by both nations ahead of a India-UAE Partnership Summit next month.

Dr Azad Moopen, Aster DM Healthcare’s chairman, said the aim was to help Emirati businessmen understand the market in the sub-continent.

“We have received support to pitch camp and do business here so we would like to take Emiratis to India and make them understand what it is to do business in India,” said Dr Moopen at a conference on Tuesday at the Indian consulate to announce the summit.

“A businessman will not pitch camp in India unless you have a personal relationship with them and give them confidence, and we want to be part of that,”

Small and medium-sized enterprise projects ranging from 10 to US$50 million are likely to be showcased at the two-day summit, which aims to bring together ministers, government officials, industry leaders and investors from both countries.

“Government bodies and the large corporates will look at the higher end of the business, like large infrastructure projects. We will focus on medium and small enterprises. We will provide full-time support and information about the projects and how to take them forward,” said Dr Moopen, head of the six-month-old Business Leaders Forum comprising about 100 Indian businessmen.

He said personal ties with Emiratis and links back home were important.

“I’m from Kerala so an Emirati known to me will have confidence to invest in a business in Kerala. We should be using our personal contact to help Emiratis come to India,” Dr Moopen said.

Total UAE investment in India is estimated to be about $10 billion including foreign direct investment of almost $5bn. Investments by Indian companies and Indians in the UAE is estimated at more than $55bn.

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The non-oil trade between the two countries for 2016-17 was $53bn, making India the UAE’s largest single trading partner, while the UAE ranked number three for India, after China and the United States.

Navdeep Singh Suri, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said there was a renewed focus following the visit of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, for India's 68th Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi in January.

“We may be looking at the billion-dollar projects with sovereign wealth funds but we also need the $10m and $50m projects in the SME sector and this partnership will be absolutely crucial to driving investment,” he said.

Airports, highways, railway stations in Mumbai and New Delhi identified for redevelopment, housing projects and the renewable energy sector were potential areas for investment, he added.

Sri Priyaa Kumaria, director-general of the India Trade and Exhibition Centre, said the summit would identify projects with involvement from state governments, local businessmen in India and UAE industrialists.

The summit will also help Emiratis tackle Indian bureaucracy.

“An Emirati will not understand that land acquisition has different procedures from state to state. We are looking at streamlining the process so the investor in India will manage the approvals,” said Mr Kumaria.

Jamal Saif Al Jarwan, secretary general of the UAE International Investors Council, highlighted the historic ties between the nations.

“After the historic visit of Sheikh Mohammed to India, our message is that India is a strong partner in business, trade and investment and we want to strengthen this,” he said.